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Photo Art

DIGITALLY PAINTED OR RETOUCHED?

Image of a painted young person

Hi everybody! I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I really have been busy with Photoshop! Major project going through all brushes! So many to choose from and big decisions on which to use. Of course this is a whole other blog on how to sort through this. The portrait image above, by Christopher Campbell at Unsplash, is one that worked nicely with the brushes for the painting effect required in this blog.

Starting Out

Adobe Creative Cloud has Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge videos that are released for Photoshop every few weeks. A couple months ago Sam Peterson, an illustrator and painter, ran two weeks of some really fabulous PS videos. One was called Brushes where he gives you a starter file and walks you through how to create a similar effect as shown above. The image used PS’s Camera Raw, Angled Strokes and Oil Paint filters to begin the painterly process as Sam demonstrates. He also showed how to create a background to match the image to be painted. This photo used a brush called Clay for the background that was in Kyle T. Webster’s India Set he sold for charity (unfortunately no longer available). It is basically a chunky block brush. For a very similar brush, check out the Brix Brush in Kyle’s Summer 2020 brush set or for the brushe, Disastro or Disastro Spatter in his Summer 2021 Brushes, which uses both the foreground and background colors (press harder or lighter to get variations and a cool texture effect). Lots of different brushes were tried before finding a background brush I liked – but then this is half the fun! For info on how to download and load Kyle’s free PS sets, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog – scroll down to the How To Find His Brushes and Loading the Brushes sections.

The Mixer Blender

Sam gave guidance on what brush settings to use, but it is up to you to find a brush on which to apply these settings. This process is using a Mixer brush to blend, not a Smudge brush which a lot of people call a blender brush. Mixer brushes are a more advanced version of the Smudge. It does not appear Kyle uses Mixer brushes very often for blending as there are only a few in his sets (there are several Mixers in his Megapack Real Oils section will work nicely). For something like digital painting, I would recommend using Mixer Blenders for this exact and complicated blending. The main thing to remember is that the Wet and Load amounts, which Sam sets at 15% to start, can be adjusted “on the fly” to get a more or less painterly effect from the brush. He did not change his Mix and Flow which were both at 50%. Still okay to change if it helps. Also, if a color is needed to be added in, like for a cheek or lips, there are several ways to do this. I find the easiest is to select a regular brush and splash a bit of color in for blending with the Mixer. In another blog I will discuss some of these Mixer points.

One of my favorite Mixer (blender) brushes, and one I used extensively on this image, is by David Belliveau (free download of 4 brushes at the link and also check out his amazing drawing tutorials – link to my blog on David’s technique is listed below). The settings Sam suggested worked fine with this brush (set to 195 pixels). When set to 15 pixels, used David’s settings to do the detail work on the image, like the eyes, lips, and some hair – mainly where the focal point is, after the original blending was done. The larger brush was used to soften down all the other edges other than the eyes and hair by the right eye which were left sharpened as discussed below. As a reminder, once the settings have been added into the Brush Settings panel for the Mixer, save it down as a new brush. Otherwise all the settings will be lost if you go to a different brush and want to come back to this Mixer.

Once a brush is chosen, it was time to paint with the Mixer – Sam seemed to only paint on one layer, but I found it much better to split it up for the different areas being painted. For the right image below, here is a list of some of the layers created – started with a basic once over on the face smoothing the edges like in Sam’s tutorial, then evening out the lighting effect on the next layer, added color to her cheeks, eyelash layer, pupils layer, iris layer, catchlight layer, fixed the shirt on another layer – just duplicated part of it and blended it together, some hair strands added on another, and lips painted. As you can see, it is a bit labor intensive, but the results are worth it. By putting everything on separate layers, corrections can be made really easily. Below on the left is the original image and on the right is the one that looks like a pretty decent retouch – so what makes it look more painterly?

Original and first attempt at painting portrait

Getting the Final Painterly Look

Mainly adding a texture is a key to getting the more painterly effect needed to sell the look. Sam has a texture in the PSD file he provides and several other brushing suggestions are given to get this look. Also using Color Lookup Adjustment Layers, and possibly Gradient Map Adjustment Layers, using different blend modes and opacities gives some nice painterly effects. And do not be afraid to stack several of the same kind of adjustments using different blend modes and opacities. Just remember that usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer must be added on top to bring back some contrast. So this is what was done on this image to finish up the “look:”

  1. Liquify was applied to enlarge her eyes just little and give her mouth a bit of an upturn (this filter is so cool!).
  2. A stamped layer was created and a Sharpen action was run on the image – a black layer mask was applied and just her eyes, her hair strand on the right and a small section of her ear lob were sharpened.
  3. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 80% opacity was run using On1-Heat Wave LUT – one that adds warmth into the image – any warm one you will probably get this effect. This really filled her face with a beautiful light effect.
  4. Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to 12% layer opacity called Teal Orange Plus Contrast preset (not sure where I got this). It darkened down the blues in her shirt.
  5. Added a Levels Adjustment Layer to flatten down the blacks a little since paintings do not have true blacks in them usually.
  6. Added French Kiss Tableaux Mirage-2 Texture – used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture with Saturation set to -100 so only the strokes from her texture show up. The texture was set to Overlay blend mode at 46% layer opacity. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.) These layers were grouped and set to 62% Group opacity – then the Group’s layer style was opened and the Blend If Slider was set to This Layer Black tab split to 0/86 and Underlying Layer White tab split to 121/255 so the strokes showed up just like I wanted them.
  7. Next on a New Layer below the Group file, a brush was created from the texture and used to cover the whole image to give it more of a painterly look – the layer was set to a reddish brown brush color, Color Burn blend mode and 93% opacity. It adds some nice soft canvas looking lines in the image, especially on the face. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.)
  8. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the Group above and the Saturation was increased (+44) and Lightness lowered (-38) to darken down and add more color to the image.
  9. Last step was a final Levels Adjustment Layer – Black tab to 16 and Output Levels black set to 5.

Hopefully you can get an idea what really goes into these digital paintings. And I am still not sure it is really a “Painting” since the original image was used, but it definitely looks more painterly than just a good retouching effect. I still look at it and see places where it could be improved, but it is a learning process. Definitely it took me several hours just to figure out the Mixer blending to get the effects needed. Enjoyed being back and plan on doing this a lot more. ……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:

Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter – David Belliveau tutorial information

How to Create a Texture Brush to Match a Texture

How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color (You Tube video link in blog)


WORKING ON DIGITAL PAINTING IN PHOTOSHOP

Digital Art image of a cat at a store door.

Sorry I have not been blogging as much as I have in the past. I have been watching a lot of videos and trying to figure out how to use the Photoshop brushes to actually give a reasonable painterly brush stroke. There does not seem to be much on how to actually do this – only a few digital artists talk about it. I felt like the above image starts to emulate painterly strokes as it might look in Corel Painter, but not sure about if it emulates real media results. (In my Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done? blog, I did get a pretty decent acrylic look.) The original above image is from Unsplash by Luca Bravo in Arles, France and was posted in my Beautiful Blue Door Tidbits Blog 3 years ago that used the Mixer brushes. For this blog I have been experimenting to try and get a consistent painterly stroke and finding settings that might work on other brush tips for a similar look. I have listed throughout this blog several free resources for brushes used in the above so check out the hyperlinks. I am also finding out this is a huge subject to cover so I am just addressing a small portion this week.

Creating the Sketch (black outline)

In the above the black lines were drawn in to create the layout of the original image. Used the PS Megapack Inkbox and Kyle’s Clean as a Whistle brush – lots of Click + SHIFT’s to draw straight lines (and it still is not perfect). When drawing a horizontal or vertical line, just keep holding down the SHIFT key while dragging to see how it is looking. This was handy for this image. If needing a more diagonal line, it will not work. When doing regular sketching, I usually use Grut – I Qwillo brush ($1 for all his individual brushes). Nicolai has an enormous number of fabulous brushes on this site (his Cloud set is the best around) . Every Monday there is a free brush of the week to download and is a great way to try out different media brushes. In this case a little richer stronger line was needed. So I would suggest trying different brushes until you get the line effect you need.

Painting Brushes

I have been trying to stick mostly to Kyle’s brushes here that can downloaded easily to try tout if you are using the later versions of Photoshop. For more info on how to download his PS brushes, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog. BTW Kyle has just released his Adobe PS Spring 2021 Brush set, so give them a try. The Edvard Munch brush set first appeared in 2017 in a 4-part video series called Get Started with Digital Painting Photoshop – they are not part of the PS2021 brushes, but are a free download here at the Adobe Creative Cloud. He found the Munch Filbert Dry Mixer gives a sort of an impasto look. To get the painterly strokes on each side of the door, I liked Kyle’s Munch Medium Flat brush but I did make some setting adjustments. I am using the brushes below to get some nice painterly strokes. I did switch a bit between them to get the right stroke effect on the walls.

The first brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Medium Flat-painting (150 px) and does not have much color variation but does use both the foreground and background colors with Pen Pressure (this means press light and background color appears and hard for foreground color when using a tablet.) Only the settings listed were changed: Texture section – was changed to one I imported from Painter, but the Rough pattern texture (Invert checked) seems pretty close (it can be found in the Photoshop default Erodible Textures set) and setting Brightness to -22, Contrast 57, Depth 19%, Minimum Depth 82%, Depth Jitter 27%, and Control to Pen Pressure; in Color Dynamics section checked the Apply Per Tip and set the Control to Pen Pressure; and in Transfer section set Opacity Jitter to 38%, Minimum to 55%, Flow Jitter 13% and Minimum 74%.

The second brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Med Flat-Painting Var1-try sim colors (175 px) to remind me how to use the brush. These settings were changed: Texture – changed it to same Rough pattern (Invert checked), Brightness to -13, Contrast to 33, Depth to 14%, Min Depth to 21%, Depth Jitter to 69%, and Control Pen Pressure; Color Dynamics changes were to check Apply Per Tip, Control set to Pen Pressure, and Saturation Jitter to 4%, Brightness 4%, and Purity to -20%; and Transfer set to Minimum Opacity Jitter 84%, Flow Jitter 43%, and Min 28%. Also the Dual Brush section was opened and the same brush,130 (size) Kyle munch flat medium1, was selected – should already show a Size of 130 px, Spacing 17%, Scatter with Both Axes checked, Scatter to 202% and Count 1; and finally Wet Edges section checked.

Try changing the Brush Tip Shape Spacing to adjust how much texture is showing up. Below are examples of how the strokes look all using the same foreground and background colors. If you have a different Texture pattern you want to try, go ahead but do adjust the sliders. Just be sure to save any brush variants you like when finished. See if you can get some nice stroke effects for solid areas especially. I would suggest trying a different brush tip (check out the list provided in the Brush Tip Shape section and just select one you like) using similar settings (or the settings from any brush you like). This is a great way to create your own paint stroke effect. I will talk more on this in a later blog.

Finishing Up

The bottom sidewalk and door pane effect was created using Kyle’s India Brushes Clay brush that I purchased recently for only $1 for his humanitarian cause of Covid 19 in India. (Available until May 10th.) All these brushes are great but I especially like the effect of this one. Kyle also has a free Builder Brush available at his website seems to do a similar result.

The other brushes used in this image were from Jessica Johnson and her fabulous Pattern Stamp brushes – I always seem to be using them! What I love most about Jessica is that she gives out samples of her different types of brushes which is always very helpful. This time it was the pattern at the top that was a give-away called 3 Modern Renaissance which included a brush and a pattern. Check out her You Tube video Free Photoshop Brush & Metallic Color Palette: Inspired by Dior Couture – Modern Renaissance to get her freebies (see 4-13-Free Renaissance Brush zip file) – and be sure to sign up for her E-mail to get notified when she has new brushes and patterns to release. In this case the Modern Renaissance was used as a regular brush and painted on in a darker gray color. Also used her Moody Floral Bold pattern stamp brush with her English Garden pattern (TM12) was used for the colorful flowers on the window sill and by the cat. When you go to her freebies for the Modern Renaissance brush, click on the 3-15-Free Brush Mon zip folder which contains the Moody Floral Brush and an accompanying pattern. I just love the flower stroke with this brush.

One of Chris Spooner’s free Subtle Grain Textures (6) was applied to give the wall a bit of a cement feel and tie it in as a building. It was masked off the cat and windows. He has lots of nice free resources at his site. The name plate with instructions are in my blog called How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images – one of my most popular blogs.

Contour Trick

The large black cat is part of a set called Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Skybox Creative that cost $12. If you check every Monday several items are available at Free Goods of the Week which is how I got this vector cat. To give him the cool contour (like my gray cat Sophie), a Bevel & Emboss layer style was added using an Inner Bevel, Smooth, Depth 230%, Direction Up, Size 68 and Soften 0. Then in the Gloss Contour, the Gaussian contour was selected – then Highlight Mode Screen, White, at 29% Opacity and Shadow Mode Multiply, Black, at 32% Opacity. The Contour was checked and the Contour was set to one by Jenni and I have no idea where I got it. Just play around a little with – it give some really cool 3D effects. The other cat is from a set called Cat Family by teddybearcholla (found in a very old Photoshop Creative magazine). A Bevel and Emboss layer style was also used on this cat, with a Depth of 532%, Up, Size 7 px and Soften 0 – Highlight Opacity set to Screen and 77% opacity and Shadow Mode set to Multiply and 33% opacity. A Watercolor pattern texture was added and set to a Depth of +26%. The layer styles really gave both cat items a fresh look.

Digital Art image of a cat at a store door.

Above is a variation of the same image with just a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer with a Cerulean preset at 25% layer opacity and a Gradient Map set to Overlay at 34% layer opacity that used purple and pink randomized color added. Quite a different look. Eventually I hope to get an E-book or PDF together that can be used as a basic guide to show some of the little tricks the sliders do. For example, did you know that if you put the Shape Dynamics Size Jitter Control (even with no Jitter set) to Pen Pressure, the actual Brush stroke appears smaller. Check the Brush Preview in the Brush Settings panel to see the range between the thick and thin stroke now. There is a lot more to this, but that is just an example showing how the stroke will be different with just one setting change. And the people who do paint digitally use all kinds of different settings to get their brushes to work. In the meantime, I will try to pop in more often! Have some fun trying out some new brushes……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

ReBlog – How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-up

Looking at the Smudge Tool – Again

How Photoshop’s Color Dynamics Brush Settings Work

What about the Pattern Stamp Tool? Not So Bad!


Trying Some Creative Art

Digital Art image of a tree

This week does not include a lot of actual painting, but it does contain a lot of free textures and brushes. I am not sure it matters as long as the creation is one of your own. Once again I followed a Julieanne Kost video called Photoshop Compositing Tools and Techniques from Adobe MAX 2020. It was an excellent fairly short video and a good refresher on how to make “fine art” digitally. Previously I did a Creating Composite Images Using the Julieanne Kost Workflow blog which gave details on her basic workflow. I am still learning her techniques and trying to keep my images as simplistic and to the point as she does. Her art does make me think about what I am trying to do with mine.

Julieanne says the “majority of her photos contain a primary subject, a secondary subject, and are set in a background or landscape that she creates.” All her items are there for a reason and she does not like to add in extraneous items that could be distracting. This is the goal I was trying to achieve with the above image.

I thought it might be helpful to include where my resources are from for this image and some of the basic techniques that were used. I hope this is something most people will find useful to do get a similar effect and quite easily.

  1. The tree was created first – just used the Filter -> Render -> Tree. No. 4 Maple Tree was selected (Light direction 36, Leaves Amount 1, Leaf Size 0, Branches Height 153, and Branches Thickness 58) which created a tree with no leaves. Lots of trees can be chosen here and the settings can be changed to get different effects easily. Really fun to do!
  2. Next a free texture was added from Shadowhouse Creations called Daguerreotype-8 to get the really odd foreground pattern. I have talked about his fabulous textures for years and he still has them all available for free. In a layer mask, the Gradient Tool was used to remove the texture from the sky area and leave it in the foreground only. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture and set to Linear Dodge blend mode.
  3. Next a sky was needed so back to Shadowhouse Creations to get one called GF-5 – a beautiful painterly texture. A duplicate of the sky was flipped horizontally with the Free Transform tool to get the the look needed. A layer mask on the top one was used to blend the two versions together.
  4. I felt like a hill would make a nice element behind the tree so one was painted in using a great free set of Chalky Brushes by Ioana Sopov and containing Chalk Noisy-2 texture brush, which gave the painted soft edge – it was set to 89% layer opacity. It still needed more texture so one called GF-3, which is an old post card in the same group of textures as the sky, was added to the image and clipped (ALT + click between the two layers to link the top layer to the bottom one) to the plain painted hill and set to Multiply blend mode. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to blend the hills into the scene, mainly desaturating and lightening it in the Master settings.
  5. Then to cover up the harsh horizon line, a brush from Jose Rodriguez called PTC Hair Brush set to 200 pixels and a darkish brown color (can download brush for free at his How to Blur Backgrounds in Photoshop video which was very good) was used to create the fence, and I thought it was an important element to further separate the tree and give it more of a sense of loneliness. Note this is a small Hairbrush but it worked great for this image so keep this in mind when using brushes – they are not always what they seem!
  6. The tree looked too harsh so it was duplicated and taken into Topaz (see sidebar of Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio 2 where Impression was opened with just the Oil Pastel preset applied. (The older version of Topaz Impression would also have worked.) Now it looked a lot more painterly. The original tree layer was turned off permanently now. For the Painterly tree, a Black and White Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and set to 68% layer opacity to almost turn the tree black and white. This is something else to remember, single layers with just one element can often be brought into PS filters to give interesting element effects.
  7. On two New Layers, the first airbrush found in the Converted Legacy Tool Presets Airbrush folder (loaded just like the Legacy brushes – see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog on how to load brushes) – it was set to a regular brush (it is a Mixer in the Tool Presets so select any regular brush first, then on the Airbrush mixer press CTRL+ALT+ click to switch it to a regular brush – and now adjust the brush settings to 3 pixels Size with Build Up and Smoothing checked) was used to draw along the tree roots – first used a dark brown, then with the same brush a lighter color was drawn next to them to make the roots stand out. If you have not used these older Tool Preset brushes, check them out – there are some good ones in there.
  8. Added textures – used the Adobe Paper Texture Pro, which is still working in PS for me, but it is no longer available from Adobe. Not sure what has happened, but textures can be added manually quite easily. The first one was called Necropolis that was set to Difference at 55% opacity – this gives a bluish tone to the whole image. Then Villa Adriana set to Color Dodge – opacity 32% and Fill 30% – a black layer mask was added and just the root area and a little bit of the trunk was painted back to get the rather glowy edges for the roots. They are both from Flypaper Textures – I believe I got the textures a long time ago with the PS extension so if you have it or had it previously, you may have already have a nice set of textures.
  9. Next a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer was added using a dark gold color (#8e7329) at 50% opacity.
  10. Added a Curves Adjustment Layer – just a straight diagonal line to upper right with a starting point at lower left set to Input 0 and Output 40 – gave a little bit of a matte look to the most dark pixels in the image.
  11. Next added a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to give more of a dark blue as opposed to a dark black to the image – this technique was discussed in Julieanne’s video. A stop was added on the bottom of the gradient at Location 20 and a color swatch set to #292d33, a very dark blue. She continued adjusting the Saturation and Brightness amounts in the HSB settings of the swatch, but I did not need this. I liked this color that was being added. Only wanted it applied to the top area of the image, so in the layer mask a black to white gradient was created with the Gradient Tool to blend it in at the horizon.
  12. Added a New Layer and selected a brush I call “SJ Soft Br (MK) to blend orig. bkgds back into mask for animal pix” created from a Matt Kloskowski webinar. Basically the settings use a 30-pixel soft round brush with the Options Bar set to Opacity 41% and Flow to 26%. Matt uses this brush in a different way than how it was used in this image to soften the edges of the tree trunk so it blended into the background more, and soften some of the sharp color and edges of the smaller branches high up in the tree. A sampled color from the sky was used for this.
  13. A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added and just a subtle change was made to add some lightness into the Highlights (Yellow-Blue set to -3) and darkness to the Shadows (Yellow-Blue +4).
  14. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the color in the overall image. The one used was called On1-Heat Wave LUTs-7 but there are so many to choose from that several were looked at before settling on this one – set to Normal at 19% layer opacity. I like to look at these last because LUTs tend to pull colors together really well.
  15. A Spotlight Effect was made with a New Layer set to Overlay blend mode at 87% opacity – using a white soft round brush to lighten up the middle of the sky where where the branches are. See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog for more on this.
  16. Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer which was applied to only the top of the image by using the Gradient Tool in the layer mask at 90% layer opacity.

As you can see, it was a pretty large endeavor to get this image. Even though the steps look straight-forward, it definitely was not. Several adjustment layers were added and removed and changes in opacity were made to them as an after-thought. I guess one of my main points is that if you look around there are lots of free resources that can be added into your composites. I wanted to share some of these with you since it is expensive to always be buying products that you may only use once or twice. Some brushes included are all pretty simple to make and several free ones are very nice and totally different from what Kyle Webster offers with PS. And as a second point, if you are like me, I am always trying to find something new and different to do in PS and to add some new dimension to an image. I think Julieanne has lots of good ideas and it did start me thinking. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd


Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes

Digitally painted image of a Kingfisher

I am continuing with another painting blog just because that is what I am doing right now. I am still getting caught up on my digital art skills which was one of my New Year’s resolutions. The beautiful Common Kingfisher image above was downloaded from Unsplash and was taken by Boris Smokrovic (there are many iterations of the bird on this site).

Since Photoshop’s brush engine has not really changed much since CS6 – and the Mixer showed up in CS5, there have been lots and lots of brushes available thru the years. The Regular brushes and the Mixer brushes are the ones most people think of using for digital painting in PS. But there are many Smudge brushes and Pattern Stamp brushes also available for painting, so don’t discount their usefulness.

The brushes used on the above Kingfisher image were from Fay Sirkis, a Corel Painter Master, who created some great PS Mixer brushes years ago (some of them can still be downloaded from KelbyOne) – not much was available back then but these hers are still great! Lots of brushes now come with PS so it is easy to get started trying a little painting of your favorite images. A huge amount of brushes were created by Kyle T. Webster are provided for free when you subscribe to Adobe’s program.

I spent a long time trying to find a few I thought would be useful to get everyone started with painting. Kyle has a lot of Regular brushes and Smudge brushes. The Goldfinch image below (by Stephen Walker at Unsplash) used : Kyle’s Drawing Box – Hatch Soft Mixer brush, Kyle’s Drawing Box – Shady Graphite Damp brush, Kyle’s Paintbox – Big Rough 880 Smudge brush, Kyle’s Inkbox – Spatter 1 brush, and at the bottom behind the bird in Kyle’s Spatter brushes – Wet Splat brush. Kyle’s Paintbox Seurat brush (pointillism-type brush) and Kyles Paintbox Cezanne2 brush both are contained in a different download called the Impressionist set and not the Megapack Paintbox folder. These brushes will give you a good idea of what is available for painting.

HOW TO FIND HIS BRUSHES: As you can see by the names of the brushes, they fall into different groups of brushes. To find the Drawing Box brushes, the Megapack must be downloaded and loaded into PS. To do this, just go to the Brushes Panel, open the Pop-out menu in the upper right corner and select Get More Brushes. All of Kyle’s brush groups will be listed – just scroll down to the one you want and download it.

LOADING THE BRUSHES: The way I load .abr or .tpl files is to open PS and then go to folder on my computer where the brushes were download and double click on the .abr or tpl files – they will load immediately as folders at the bottom of your brush list. With Kyle’s brushes, you can just select to add them right into PS instead of saving the brushes down. This is a very quick way to do this.

FINDING THE BRUSH YOU WANT: The Megapack is huge, so once loaded into PS, go to the Search field located at the top under the Size slider in the Brushes Panel and type in part of the brush name – all loaded will be listed. They added the search mechanism with the latest version of PS and it is a life-saver if you have lots of brushes loaded (which I do!). Try searching to find the above Hatch Soft brush or Shady Graphite brush. The Paintbox brushes are also listed in one of the Mega Pack folders, so search for those brushes and they will show up. There is another nice painterly set to download and it is called the Impressionist Brushes if you want to load the Seurat and Cezanne2 brushes – several other famous painter’s brushes are located here also.

Image of a painted American Goldfinch

In just the Megapack folder there are these different subfolders: Erasers (6 brushes); Drawing Box which contains these types of brushes – Charcoal, Markers, Crayons, Pencil, Colored Pencil, Sketch, Lots of Mixers both blenders and those that add color including Pastels/Oil Pastels/Pastel Smudge, and Smudge (74 brushes); Inkbox (157 brushes!); FX Box which contains Grains, Noise and Canvas brushes (27 brushes); Paintbox which contains 8 Smudge, 2 Acrylic, Bristle Brushes, Gesso brushes, 10 Gouache brushes, 8 Watercolor and several other kinds (53 brushes); Real Oils which contains the 6 Sargent brushes (44 brushes); Classic Group which contains all kinds of useful brushes (19 brushes); Bonus which just contains Chunky Charcoal brush; and Tech Pens which contains 5 brushes. I felt like this may help if you are looking for a particular type of brush. The Impressionist set contains 24 brushes and blenders.

The other brush sets that can downloaded are: Keith Haring-Inspired Brushes, Watercolor, Dry Media, Gouache, Spatter, Runny Inkers, Manga Brushes, Crosshatchers, Rake Brushes, Impressionist, Letterers, Halftones, Copier, Concept, Art Markers, Charcoal, Summer 2018 Brushes, Winter 2019 Brushes, Summer 2019 Brushes, Spring 2020 Brushes, Summer 2020 Brushes, and Winter 2020 Brushes. If you go up on Kyle’s brushes, there is a small description of what each set contains to help you decide if they will be useful. I did not look at all of these, just the Impressionist set which contained the Seurat and Cezanne2 brushes. The ones dated by year contain several different types of brushes so it definitely worth the time to try them out – your favorite brush may just be included! Kyle did say that he is planning on releasing a Spring 2021 group of brushes in May which will contain a brush with leaf shapes, so that should be fun to get.

Image of a painted Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

The above image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm but was painted using some extra free Kyle Munch brushes. To create this effect, duplicate the image. The bird was then isolated from the top layer by using the Quick Selection Tool and Select Subject – add a layer mask and clean up any areas that need to be added or removed. Since it is being painted, it does not have to be perfect. A white Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added underneath the selected image. Now for the fun part – used brushes from Kyle that are not in the program files – they are called Munch brushes and were created to imitate Edvard Munch‘s brush style (his most famous painting is The Scream). I would recommend watching the first 7-minute video at the brush download site to learn how to use them properly – 7 brushes are included. This image only used the Munch – Filbert brush, set to a very small size for the details. A texture was added underneath the bird and over the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer. As a final touch, a Romantic English Garden Pattern Stamp Brushes and Patterns from Jessica Johnson was used to scatter a little color on the bottom. This was totally fun to do and not hard at all. These steps are basically how all three images were painted.

I thought I was ready to post this blog a few weeks ago, and then I started finding a number of Adobe Creative Cloud videos by Kyle to help understand how to use the PS brush engine and all the various types of brushes he created. If interested, check out these videos: Photoshop Masterclass: Brushes, Photoshop Brush Top Tips and Tricks with Kyle T. Webster, Brush Hour with Kyle T. Webster: Episode 1-Spatter Time (apparently he will be doing different types of brushes this year) – he produces videos at least weekly. Kyle basically says you don’t have to know how to create brushes, just experiment with the ones he has provided. He does spend a lot of time explaining what each of the Brush Settings Panel sections do so a brush can be changed “on the fly” to get a good result. He is a designer and illustrator and knows what kind of brushes are needed for all types of painting media.

I plan on expanding my brush info and some painting tips with you soon – you can never have too many brushes! Hope everyone is doing well and getting a chance to try some new things in PS. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd


REBLOG – HOW TO USE PHOTOSHOP’S BRUSH TEXTURE SECTION FOR PAINTING CLEAN-UP

Image of three painted birds on a branch

Since I have not been taking a lot of images recently, I decided to practice some painting in Photoshop. The image above is one I experimented with using what I hope looks like a bit of a Fall background scene. These birds were mainly painted using PS Mixers – mostly the blenders at different sizes and shapes. Check out some of the Converted Legacy Tool Presets – Default Tool Presets (open the top left pop out and select) to get some really nice brushes to start some painting. (Check out the Blunt – Round Blender and Fan – Flat Blender – I have used both mixer blenders to paint images – try adjusting the Size and some of the Options Bar settings for different results.) If you change some brush settings and like the results, be sure to save the preset to keep those settings. There is definitely a bit of trial-and-error and so much depends on the image. I was not too sure how these birds would turn out, but I think they are fine. It is very relaxing to paint also. Well, hope you are enjoying cruising into the wonderful Fall weather. I hope to get going on those Halloween pix soon!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image of painted purple hydrangeaI have been painting in Corel Painter more but finding I just have to use Photoshop to finish up most of my work. This can be frustrating because as we all know, Painter excels with their hundreds of brushes and usually the strokes and dabs look much better when created in Painter. Therein lies my dilemma. How do I clean up some mis-strokes when I am in PS so that you can’t tell the clean up was done.

I have been working on a brush all week and a lot of the best results came from the PS Brush Panel’s Texture section settings. If you understand this section, you can create some really nice brushes for smoothing out hard edges or blending texture into a big splotches of paint.

Some Important Brush Panel Notes:

  • The Brush Panel in Photoshop is often called the Brush Engine as it is in Painter.
  • Also when creating a new brush, be sure to actually click on each brush section name to open it up. By clicking on the check box, the existing settings from the last brush used will be applied to it. This can wreak havoc on a brush!
  • Texture and Pattern can mean the same thing, depending on what you are doing in Photoshop (and Painter). A texture is really a texture that you are adding in as a layer to an image and usually have .jpg or .png file extensions. A texture can be a pattern when using the Paint Panel’s Texture Section, the swatches as shown below are actually patterns and will have a .pat extension. To convert a texture to a pattern, open the Texture in PS, and to a Pattern, go to Edit -> Define Pattern – a Rectangular Marquee Selection can be made of just part of the texture to use as a pattern also. It will now appear at the end of your Patterns list.

Brush Panel Texture Section Basics

Below is what the Texture section looks like when the brush created was used to clean up the above hydrangea image. See My Pastel Brush Settings section below for all the original brush settings – it is a favorite of mine to just paint with, without these Texture settings. The new settings are also listed again if you would like to create the brush.
Screenshot of Brush Panel Texture SectionAs you can see in the image, the Painter strokes created a lot of differing and textured swirls within this image. When the image was opened in Photoshop for final processing, I looked at the strokes more closely. Several looked too sharp – too much bristle or sketch-looking lines – and did not blend well with the other parts of the image.

The brush created was for adding texture into painted areas to either soften edges or add some interest. This is done in PS by adding one of the same patterns already listed in the drop-down (click on down arrow to left of pattern swatch to open up).  This is the same pattern list used with the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, Layer Style Pattern Overlay Section, Bevel & Emboss Texture Section, and Stroke Section. Here are a few of my Obsidian Dawn patterns shown in my drop-down list below.
Screenshot of pattern drop-down Menue in Texture SectionA colored pattern can work in the brush if it has lots of contrast, which is determined not by the color saturation but the light and dark tones. The black and white patterns seem to be the best choices. The texture used in this brush was called 12 and the link is in brush settings section below. The pattern had a nice contrast to it and created an interesting texture in the stroke. The pattern may not be visible in the stroke preview at all until the following section sliders are adjusted.

The Scale can be adjusted to get a bigger or smaller pattern size. If you make it too small, a repeat pattern line in larger brush strokes may be seen, so watch out for this. When the pattern is added and no change is visible, try adjusting the Brightness slider first and watch the Preview for a change. The Contrast can help but it is not usually as noticeable. The Mode can make a big difference. Try all the different modes as they sometimes give drastically different results. The Preview will show these differences. The Depth, Minimum Depth (must set a Control to use this slider), and Depth Jitter (randomness) sliders can also add some major texture contrast, especially on the edge of the stroke. Overall adding texture to a brush requires a lot of tweaking, but when you get a good result, it is so rewarding and helpful to have.

How to Paint with This Brush

Now that you have a brush you like, here are a couple little tips for using it. Since you are using a texture (pattern) in your brush, it can make your computer use a lot of ram to keep up with your stroking since most of the time the Texture Each Tip box is on. This means it is applying the texture to each stroke laid down. Try increasing the spacing just a bit – usually this will not make a very noticeable change and speeds up the stroking. Since I have an older computer, CS6 runs much smoother when painting with a textured brush. It can also help to change your image to 8-bit mode if having problems.

Next point, if you want to just smooth some of the strokes with this brush, sample the color you are painting on (ALT+click on spot). If you want to add a little texture to the stroke, just sample a similar color nearby or go a lighter or darker using the color swatch. This is how I mainly added the soft color in some of the larger areas of this image. This brush can be used without the Texture Section checked to make a much more smooth stroke for color clean up or sharp edges.

Sometimes a funny color results if you are painting on a layer that is underneath an adjustment layer. That’s because you are technically sampling All Layers even though it is not shown in the Options Bar. Either need to turn off the adjustment layers above and sample the colors before the adjustments layers were added, or create a stamped version (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and then add the New Layer for painting on. Now the sampled colors will be as you adjusted them. The stamped layer can then be deleted but the colors will stay correct.

Why Not Use the Smudge Brush or the Mixer Brush?

The Smudge brush does some wonderful things, but there is no access to the Texture Section in the Brush Panel for Smudge brushes (only Basic Tip Shape and Shape Dynamics can be adjusted with a Smudge Brush and no color can be laid down, only get blending). The Mixer brushes work very well but I find it takes a lot of experimenting to get the exact stroke needed. Since what I needed was a quick little clean up brush, this seemed a bit like over-kill unless it is needed for some fine art.

My Pastel Brush Settings

I really like the shape of this brush – as a starter it is very textured and makes a nice subtle rough edge with the dab. The new brush used in my image and in this blog was called SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder2 (I do not remember why I named it Pastel 3 since it used their Pastel 11???). Both the new brush and my original brush (called SJ Pastel 3 Use) used this wonderful dab (tip shape of brush – similar to a captured dab type in Painter) can be found in SDW Pastel Brushes set as Pastel 11 brush. I listed my settings. I also created brushes using their Pastel 5 brush – try this one out for a good experiment – slightly different dab shape. I am not exactly sure this qualifies as a true pastel brush since the Erodible Tips are often used for pastel effects.

Brush Tip Shape:
Size: It opens up at a huge 2130 px brush! Here are the settings for the other sections so you can create the same brush or use this one to try and create some better results. The original SJ Pastel 3 brush was set to 35 pixels in size. For this painting brush, the size is set to 8 pixels. I like to use a small size for clean up and this can be adjusted easily.
Angle – 137 degrees – change by moving the little circle with the arrow around
Roundness – 100% – change by moving the little dots on circle inward
Spacing – 35%

Shape Dynamics:
Size Jitter – 17% but Control on Fade
Minimum Diameter 23%
Angle Jitter – 42% and Control Off
All other settings at 0.

Texture:  For SJ Pastel 3 Use (original brush)
Pattern in drop-down:  Rough, located in PS Erodible Textures
Scale – 87%
Brightness – (-45)
Contrast – 0
Check Texture Each Tip
Mode – Multiply
Depth – 50%
Depth Jitter – 1%

Texture:  For SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder2 (new painting brush)

Used was Pattern 21 from Obsidian Dawn’s SS-grungy-dirty-patterns set. Check out her website – one of my favorites for brushes and everything Photoshop and some good tutorials are also available.
Scale – 87%
Brightness – 101
Contrast – 60
Check Texture Each Tip
Mode – Height
Depth – 36%
Depth Jitter – 55%

Smoothing:  Always leave toggled on

Options Bar Settings

For beginning setting, the brush Options Bar shows a Mode of Normal, Opacity 67% and Flow 100% for both brushes. Need to be careful. If your brush does not act correctly, take a peek up at these settings to make sure they are set correctly.

I usually save these brushes as both Brush Tool Presets and Brush Presets. Also go into the Preset Manager and save them on your hard drive so if you lose them accidentally, they can be restored easily.

Pink Wildflowers image These pretty little wildflowers were growing on my deck a while back. They were painted in PS using the original My Pastel Brush, and then clean up using the new SJ Pastel 3 brush from above. The background was painted in Painter and added over the image. There was a lot of clean up in this image, but overall it came out pretty much how I wanted it to look.

I hope you get a chance to try out the brush and experiment making your own. It can really help to clean up those over-looked Painter mistakes without having to go back and forth into the different programs. Also it works great when painting in PS as in the wildflower image, with and without the Texture Section turned on, to clean up the layers below.


HOW TO DO A LITTLE SUBCONSCIOUS DIGITAL ART JOURNALING

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

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

Resources

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

A Few Digital Art Journaling Tips I Learned

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Topaz Studio Basic Looks Settings for these Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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

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

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

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

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

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


ANOTHER PAINTERLY EFFECT TO TRY

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

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

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

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

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


WHAT ABOUT THE PATTERN STAMP TOOL? NOT SO BAD!

Image of a painted male lion
This week I tried out the Pattern Stamp Tool, one I do not remember using. Since I have been getting back into painting some of my images using both Photoshop regular/mixer brushes and Corel Painter, I did not think I would like the results since it is a “painting” tool that has been with the program for a very long time. Well, if used correctly, it does a surprisingly good job. The Lion image above is one I downloaded a long time ago from Unsplash and is by Jakob Puff. This looks a lot harder than it was and I was totally surprised how nice the lion turned out, especially considering how fast it was done.

So what brought this on? This week Adobe Create came out with a link called Free Photoshop Brushes: Impressionist Set by Creators Couture. Needless to say I had to check this out. Jessica Johnson did a short video and gives you five Pattern Stamp brushes to try out this technique. What is so interesting is that you are not carefully painting each section with your brushes, you are basically just dragging around to lay down the strokes. The image itself has been turned into a Pattern which the brushes use as guidelines to follow. They look like strokes because each brush has a different make up. Jessica’s brushes are really nice and they were the only ones used in the lion image. I was going to do a video, but I think Jessica’s is pretty good and short – if you want to try this out, follow her video.

Her technique follows a pretty standard painting workflow with an Underpainting layer, Base layer, Detail layer, and then some additional layers to finish up the image. Each type of layer has a brush associated with it to create the effect. A duplicate copy of the image was placed on top and turned off while painting. A solid brown layer was used to build the painted effect up on – basically follow her simple steps to get a pretty decent result. For the above, once done with the Pattern Stamp layers and brushes, a New Layer was added to paint in the white whiskers a little. A black layer mask was placed on the duplicate copy on top and the areas that needed a little more emphasis and detail were painted back lightly – mainly the eyes, nose and whisker areas and it was set to 43% layer opacity. (See Lion Image info for final steps.)

Major Things to Know:

  1. If actually using the pattern to paint over the image, be sure that Aligned is checked in the Options Bar. Impressionistic is always checked to get this effect.
  2. If you want more detail with any brush, just make it a little smaller or want less detail, make the brush a little larger.
  3. Can also adjust the effect by changing either the brush Opacity or the Flow.
  4. Can change the Layer Opacity to reduce effect.
  5. Change the blend mode of the image and often a very different look, and sometimes better, will occur.

What I did learn is that it is not that hard to create your own Pattern Stamp brushes. There are a couple tricks you do need to know though.

Steps to Creating a Pattern Stamp Brush:

  1.  First find a brush that you think might look good for painting – there are a lot that will not work well so it takes a little experimentation here. In the PS CC later versions, in the Brushes Panel select a brush and then click the Save as a Preset icon at bottom and do not check Include Tool Settings.
  2. Now select the Pattern Stamp Tool (which is stacked with the Clone Stamp Tool) and then select the new preset. The brush will now work as a Pattern Stamp Tool.
  3. Make changes in the Brush Settings Panel.
  4. Save down as a new brush with the Include Tool Settings checked.

These steps also work on any brushes you want to change over to a different type, like changing a regular brush to an Eraser, Clone Stamp or even a Mixer. Pretty handy.

I did a lot of research before writing this blog to see if anyone else has a better way of using this Tool or better brushes – I could not find a lot. The great PS Guru Jack Davis had demonstrated this technique in his wonderful Creative Live Class called Painting with Photoshop where he used very different brushes (from 2002 but they still work) and an action, which are provided, but my first results were not good. What I liked about his brushes are that they represent Chalk, Dry Brush, Oil and Watercolor mediums. Need to consider this when creating your own.

How I created a couple of my own brushes was to look at the ones Jessica provided and try out similar settings. It was really trial and error and it totally depends on the look wanted as to which brush to adjust. For more on my brushes I created see below in Lion Palm Tree info. This process can be a little time consuming and Jessica’s brushes work really well IMO. If you only use this process occasionally, her brushes will probably be a good set to use. She also has several for sale on her site if you decide you really like to do this.

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Image of a pink water lily at the National Zoo in Washington, DC
This Lily image was created a little differently. Instead of creating a copy of the Water Lily image to use as a pattern and painting on directly, separate layers were used with different brushes to add different painting stroke and color effects on the image. In this case a green Watercolor Pattern was used for most of the leaves in the background and it was painted in using one brush I created. Then on a New Layer on the dark areas in the image a green Glitter Pattern was placed in the Options Bar, and a different brush was used- it created sort of splotchy strokes. On a New Layer the same brush using a Blue Glitter Pattern was added on some of the leaves for interest. Last pattern stamp layer which gave a pretty cool look to the lily was to set the layer to Hard Light Blend Mode and using a pattern called Strokes Gold and Kyle’s Scrape brush converted to a Pattern Stamp brush – the actual flower was painted over. For the rest of the steps and resources, see Lily info below.
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Image of two Palm Trees on the Big Island in Hawaii
These two painted Palm Trees from the Big Island in Hawaii turned out to be a good example for using the Pattern Stamp Tool. This time I used both a Pattern of the image itself for painting, and created a pattern using a small portion of a Renoir painting that had lots of pretty greens and blues in it. That meant that I switched between both patterns when creating this effect (turning the Align checkbox on and off). Just used a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer with a bright blue for the bottom. Then followed Jessica’s workflow using her brushes for the Underpainting, Base, Detail, Artistic, and Textures layers. Used one of my brushes and created patterns to apply the color behind the horizon and in the foreground. The foreground layer was set to Color Dodge blend mode at 57% layer opacity to get the yellows to pop. In my Two Palm Trees notes below, I have given you all the settings I used to create one of my brushes that was used for the foggy effect behind the trees. That was about it on this one other than the stand finishing as in the other two images.

I found this technique pretty easy to do and would encourage you to try a simple image using Jessica’s brushes and see what you think. She also gives you some patterns if you sign up for her newsletters which are very nice. She has a few videos on her website which show how to create the patterns like I did on the Renoir pattern for the Palm Trees image – this is really very simple stuff. If you like the painterly look, give it a try – you can always use layer masks to remove the effect from faces or objects and give a really interesting overall effect for your images. Well have fun painting! ….. Digital Lady Syd

IMAGE INFO

Lion Image: I just finished up with my normal image workflow: a white Spotlight Effect on face set to 85% layer opacity, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer (using Foggy Night preset) at 52% layer opacity, Exposure Adjustment Layer to pop the eyes, a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode to adjust the tones, and a Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer at 58% layer opacity for contrast.

Lily Image: The Green Watercolor pattern was from a set by Ult Designers Watercolors. I tried a lot of Grut brushes (the best around – check out his freebies section for a free brush every week and his sampler for some more good brushes) as he uses a lot of different types of tips , textures, and edges in them. I finally got a pretty good brush using his Grut – OI Chimp Gimble and another with FX IL Choppy Slop brushes in his excellent Inky Leaks Set. Also used PS’s Kyle Webster’s Scrape brush. To get the free patterns, go to Chris Spooner Glitter Patterns. The Brush Strokes (Gold) Pattern is free. To finish up this image, usually I group the Pattern Stamp layers. Then once again just my normal finishing up process. First on a New Layer I did a little flower clean up – one area was too bright and distracted from the focus of the image so it had to be painted using a darker color. Next a free Matt Kloskowski’s Sun Rays Top Left was added, flipped and rotated to have the correct lighting effect, set to Overlay blend mode at 59% layer opacity. I did not like the white light but wanted a warmer color, so clipped a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to the image and set the Hue to -180, Sat 98, and Lightness -27 for more yellow tones in the ray. This added a cool look to the image. Two New Layers were added and set to Overlay blend mode – one for a spotlight effect on the flower, and one to add more orange and yellow tones to just parts of the flower for some contrast. What really popped this image was a Gavin Philips custom pattern with a bright sun ray in the upper left from his Lightmaster Action.  The ray was moved in the pattern by holding the CTRL and dragging in the image. It was set to Overlay blend mode at 39% layer opacity. On a New Layer was set to Overlay, some black paint was added to darken down the upper right leaf – became too bright from the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer. Next a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using my Sketch Effect cube presets and set to 71% layer opacity. Next a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to just adjust the color a little. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the tones in the image and set to Luminosity blend mode. And Finally a Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer where both the contrast and the colors were tweaked just a tiny bit.

Two Palm Trees Image: Just a couple things about this image. I created a Pattern Stamp brush using my SJ 3 Pastel brush as a basis. Since I have released my settings for my go-to brush a long time ago, I will give you the settings I used to create the Pattern Stamp brush. First need to follow the instructions in my How to Create My Favorite Brush blog to create my basic SJ 3 Pastel Brush. Then in the Texture section, change Texture to Extra Heavy Canvas, Invert checked, Scale 83%, Brightness -90, Contrast 76, Checked Texture Each Tip, Mode Linear Height, Depth 23% and Depth Jitter 76%. Then add a Dual Brush set to Rocky (a soft round grainy ball), Size 223 px, Spacing 29%, Scatter – check Both Axes and 123%, and Count 5. Now go ahead and Save Brush, then Save again with a Tool checked, select the Pattern Stamp Tool and then save again with Tool checked. The trick to creating a brush is to look at the Texture and the Dual brush sections. These both have a lot to do with how the brush will paint a pattern. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using Scott Kelby Warm Reds preset was added at 90% layer opacity. Last steps here were to use two spotlight layers for lightening up and darkening down areas in the trees. Black and White Adjustment Layer and Green Curve Adjustment Layer were used to finish off the image.


MY PERSONAL FANTASY MAP

My Personal Fantasy MapIt was a busy week since Adobe decided to do a major update to their products including Lightroom and Photoshop. That kept me very busy since it seems to take forever for me to get it all working the same (still have a couple problems that aren’t working correctly). so I took a break from my normal blog and just decided to show what I worked on creatively this week! Chris Spooner made a short video called Create a Fantasy Map of Your Own Fictional World in Adobe Photoshop that really caught my attention. I had never thought of doing that! The more I worked on it, the more things I thought about adding. I named a few places after some my favorite people who create great work and some classical artists. It took forever to actually set the text, which I find really fussy with Photoshop anyway, and add a bunch of clip-art, mostly from PixelSquid, my favorite object site. Some of the images were from images I took and selected parts to add, like the resort hotel from Disney World. Chris Spooner also has a blog Download My Free Treasure Map Maker for Adobe Illustrator some basic map elements. I opened his Illustrator Treasure Map Assets.eps file, which opens up in PS. Created brushes from the objects by using the Lasso Tool and SHIFT+CTRL+J to put object on it own layer, then creating a brush by Turning on just the object layer and going to Edit -> Brushes. Not sure I used them on this map, but they looked like good, especially the pirate ships.

The hardest thing about making this map was to keep the layers organized (contains 84 layers). Therefore group of layers were created for lots of the different elements so I could find them quickly, including text layers (31 text layers). There are water layers, road and trail layers, and each text and object had groupings. Many of the layers had Hue/Saturation or other types of adjustments layers (26 in total) attached to them to adjust out the colors. Most of the object and text layers have layer styles added to them.

Overall lots of fun if you want something different to try. The basic land masses are very easy to create and as you can see, the maps can be as complicated as you want. I have to admit it was a bit of a challenge. Until later ….. Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Posts:
How to Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop
A Few Compositing Tips and Tricks!
Pseudo Scrapbooking


LEARNING TO DRAW A WOLF!

My drawn image of a Wolf on the HuntThis image of a wolf took me several days to complete! I am not exactly an expert with drawing, but I followed a rather lengthy tutorial by Aaron Blaise and it came out looking pretty good. (I actually had to start over as it looked wrong to me on my first attempt.) Of course, it is not as good as his, but considering I have very few skills here, it was really fun to create something I like! That is why I am passing this on in my blog – if I can do this, you can do this!

Aaron Blaise is one of my very favorite illustrators and I have been following his blog for several years now. He worked for Disney Animation for a long time on many of their great movies (The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, and more). He has several videos on YouTube and many reasonably priced lessons on his website. The Youtube video followed here was called How to Paint Fur-Photoshop-Wolf Portrait. What I really liked about the video is that he breaks the whole process down into several sections (and layers) so it is easy to understand how the image is actually going together. He starts off with teaching how to draw a rough sketch of the wolf, continues on with refining the drawing, adding color, then shadows and highlights, and finally adding the fur textures. I felt like I learned a whole lot and this is just from a YouTube. Below is what the drawing looked like after finishing up the tutorial, and it sort of looks likes his since I followed the steps pretty closely. In this case I would watch for a few minutes, then try to do what he was doing – this is a great way to learn how to do this.

My Drawn image of a wolfI liked how this image turned out too. There are lots of techniques Aaron shares on how to get the fur looking natural. One thing I did want to say is that you have to decide on a few favorite brushes and stick with them. It took me quite a ways into the video to decide which ones were giving me effects similar to what he created. A couple of his brushes I had, but they did not look right to me – he is using a Cintiq and I am using an older Wacom and it did seem to make a difference on how the strokes looked. I ended up creating a set of ABlaise Painting brushes to use and started by adding in just a soft round brush. He has a “go-to” brush that he always uses, but it seems too organic for me. For the actual drawing, my “go-to” brush is Grut’s I Qwillo brush – got used to it and always use it. Then for the local color and fur, a brush tip of one of Aaron’s brushes was used. Not sure which brush but it is basically a very solid color with Size 35 pixels, Opacity 100%, Opacity Pressure icon on, Flow 83% and Smoothing 10%. It was reduced down in size for the fur and and seemed to work pretty good. To get the ends pointed for the fur, the Pressure for Size was also turned on. It takes a little experimenting and several brushes were created to fit all the strokes he is teaching. He also talks a lot about values and how to light your subject – very interesting and practical since you can watch as he creates the lighting effects – the drawing sort of just pops! The last several minutes he is teaching how to finalize the image to make it look less drawn and more like an image.

One of my Corel Painter textures was added to the top image a couple times, set to Linear Light blend mode where the Fill slider was adjusted, and parts were brushed away in a layer mask to get a more artistic effect. It gave it that cold look that makes me think of wolves. It was so much fun to do this project, but it did take time. I would recommend you trying it if you have an interest in drawing animals and even if you do not – Aaron teaches a lot of little tips and tricks. It was a great way to stay inside when it is so hot and rainy! I am going to try to do a different one soon. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


USING TOPAZ PLUG INS CREATIVELY

Digitally painted landscape image I find Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Labs and/or Topaz Studio is totally in a “league of its own” when it comes to helping digital artists take their images to a new level. Even though I have blogged about Topaz plugins and most recently Studio’s AI Remix adjustment (see What is Topaz AI Remix????), this week I am presenting a short blog and video on how I created this image using some of the Topaz Studio’s and Lab’s plugins.

The products that really are outstanding to me for creativity are: Topaz Studio AI ReMix adjustment, Topaz Studio (and previously Labs) Impression, Topaz Labs ReStyle, and, believe it or not, this wonderful little program no longer marketed called photoFXlab which uses an InstaTone program section (the 500 px and 1X.com do not work, but the other three do so it works just fine) (See my short InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results! blog). This is not to say that many of their other plugins, like Topaz Adjust, Black & White Effects, Glow, and Texture Effects are not useful for the creative – they are great but maybe not as unique as the ones I mentioned.

AI ReMix adjustment fits right into what I like about Topaz products. It has a bit of a steep learning curve to figure out what works and what does not when trying to get that creative uncanned look. That is why I decided to do this quick blog and video. The original image was beautiful and is from a group of photos at Deeezy called 20 Free Photos from Seychelles – I like to practice with some of these free images. I did not realize I would like the results but since it has an interesting artistic appearance applied, it does not matter that I did not use my own equipment for the image. Wish I had been there to do so. If you do not see the You Tube link in your browser, please open the video from within the blog.

Steps for Post-Processing the Top Image

Once opened in Photoshop, the image was duplicated and taken into Topaz Studio where two adjustments were used: the Impression Adjustment (used Default settings but set it to Stroke Type 09) and AI ReMix (used my SJ Soft Painterly Effect in Preset dropdown and adjustment 0.27 opacity – the SJ Soft Painterly Effect has these settings:  Opacity 0.27, Style Strength Low, Col 7/Row 3 swatch, Brightness 0.53, Contrast 1.17, Saturation 0.98, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 1.00 and Sharpness 0.50). Back in Photoshop, many tweaks were made since the adjustments had added a great creative starting point. I will not go through all the steps – they were quickly reviewed in the video – but it did take a bit of work to get the image to a place that worked for me. Nik Viveza 2 was used to help direct focus and there was a spotlight effect layer. John Derry’s Impasto Varnish Smooth layer style (no longer available-Kyle Webster had some also but I cannot find them either – try searching for Photoshop Impasto layer styles. Basically what is going is that a Bevel and Emboss layer style is added and the Layer Fill slider is set to 0 – preferably use a brush with some interesting edges to paint add the painterly effect on the layer). Used my SJ Pastel 3 favorite brush to paint over a few waves and rock edges to add some additional definition. Then a texture called Solstice Elan2 from French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was added – the same layer style was used on the texture set to 22% layer opacity to soften the whole foreground effect. Then added a frame I created in Corel Painter was added for a final more painterly touch.
Image of a digitally painted landscape

Steps for Post-Processing this Image

Same steps were as above with the same Topaz Studio Impression and AI ReMix adjustment settings and clean up layers. To get this different effect, a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was taken into Topaz ReStyle and I used my SJ Tulips preset with changes to some of the sliders. This preset was created from a tulip image previously processed in ReStyle (see my How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image blog). You can actually get a very similar effect as the ReStyle filter gives when photoFXlab Instatone is opened and applied. Nik Viveza 2 was also used and Curves Dodge and Burn adjustment layers were also used. A little clean up and spotlight effect was applied but no impasto layer styles.

Issue Encountered

One thing noticed was that by applying so much post-processing to an image that was not as high a quality as a RAW file, some artifacting became apparent. On the cooler image below, I rather meticulously painted away the artifacting in the foreground mountain and rock formations mainly using a very tiny (3-9 pixel) brush at 50% strength – this took several hours and could probably use more. On the top image, I got smarter. It occurred to me to just use the Spot Healing Brush set to: Content Aware, Multiply, and Sample All layers using a small brush around 7 pixels. Just smeared long strokes over the areas – only the white artifacting was healed (colored in), but the color in the darker areas was left alone. It took about 10 minutes instead of several hours. Wish I had thought of it earlier before hand painting and healing the first image.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun for you to see how these creative plug-ins can be used together. Below are a couple recent blogs you might have missed on my Tidbits Blog showing some other image examples. Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring – looks like the weather is starting to improve finally!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Enjoying the Attention (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Stand Tall (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment and Impression Adjustment)
Dodging the Fire (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
A Scottish Countryside Town (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Four Picture Triptych with Topaz ReStyle (Topaz Labs ReStyle)
Heathcliff in Toon Lagoon (photoFXLab InstaTone)


TAKING A BREAK TO LEARN SOME NEW THINGS

A composite image using giraffesI am taking some time to learn a few new techniques-hence the expression in the image. I have never really explored the large digital scrapbooking community-they often use some very different ways of approaching an artistic expression. This image represents several of their techniques learned from partially from Tiffany Tilmman-Emanuel in her Mixed Media for Digital Scrapbookers videos from Creative Live. She is an excellent presenter and there are many more new things to try. I hope to be blogging on some of these soon. This was my first attempt at trying out some new techniques and it ended up being 42 layers long.

Resources used in this image are: the giraffe face is my own image, the silhouette giraffes are brushes from TutsPS, left giraffe is from Mr. Vintage Wild Animals set, white bird by Flower & Bird Watercolor by Gringoanne, and green leaves are from Lisa Glantz’s Magical Watercolor Graphics Vol1 Sample; background composed of Free Spirit su Gesso Texture (check out this free download of gesso textures – they are really nice), French Kiss Glorious Grunge Index (not sure it is still available), and Kim Klassen 2170 with Script (not sure it is still available); and the text layer is from Chris Spooner’s Watercolour Text Effect.

Have a great week!……Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO DO A BLACK & WHITE GRADIENT MAP CONVERSION

The Royal Horseguards Hotel in LondonThis week just another simple technique learned mainly from Blake Rudis on how to create a pretty nice quick black and white image. The rather low key above image is of the Royal Horseguards Hotel, also known as Whitehall, in London taken from the London Eye. I think it has a bit of a Halloween feel to it. It is a good example of using the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to convert to a black and white photo.

I am sure most of you have heard that a black and white Gradient Map will create a pretty nice black and white image without doing much else. This effect can be improved by using a couple little tricks. Blake Rudis presented the following technique in a recent Creative Live presentation called Post-Processing Workflow for Portraits and Landscapes. To get a good black and white conversion, a good color image is first needed so this is the first step for getting a good result. To create a black and white image, first set set swatches to the default settings of black for foreground and white for background  – then clicking on the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer. Often a very nice black and white image usually occurs and many people just use this. For this image, a really almost black blue tone was used instead of the black color by editing the Gradient in the Gradient Editor (click on strip to get editor). Blake’s tip is to add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer underneath the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer. By adjusting the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders, a better range of tones can be achieved. By clicking in the image using the Targeted Adjustment Tool in the upper left of panel,  individual colors can be adjusted without changing the sliders manually. The bottom strips under the sliders are color range limiting bars (drag the outer triangles together or stretch them apart) and can be adjusted to get some more variation in tonal range. He also suggested trying a Selective Color Adjustment Layer or Black and White Adjustment Layer instead of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. I found this whole concept to be very flexible and it makes the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer a much better tool for converting to black and white. The image above got the amazing detail by using Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio with the Detail plug-in. Then the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was used for the black and white conversion, and finally a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added underneath to get the great contrast. If the Gradient Map Adjustment Layer is turned off, a really weird colorized image appears. It is amazing that this works! The last step was adding a slight color effect using the Camera Raw filter’s Split Toning settings of Highlights 194, Saturation 15, Balance -10, Shadows Hue 234, and Saturation 17 – the layer opacity was changed to 62% for the cooler tint.

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Image of a Malayan Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooThe above is one of my tiger images taken at the Jacksonville Zoo a while back. First added one of my colorful painted textures placed above the tiger layer and in a mask, the tiger was painted back. After a little clean up, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was added on top and a Black and White Adjustment layer was placed underneath it. The Blue Filter was selected in the Preset drop-down to bring out more detail in the tiger. The sliders were adjusted to get just the right contrast. Then several Curves Adjustment Layers were used to target different parts of the image to get the correct effect. Most of the time the last step in black and white images should be adding the tint. The tiger image used a nice subtle warm tint provided by Glyn Dewis for his lion image from a really good video called Take a Picture from Good to Great in 5 Steps. It was set up in Camera Raw as a Split Toning preset: Highlights Hue 23/Saturation 6 and Shadow Hue 41 and Saturation 6. In this case the last step involved adding a slight vignette to the image. (See my Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette! blog.)

Well that is it for this week. Enjoy this beautiful fall weather we are having!…..Digital Lady Syd


PSEUDO SCRAPBOOKING

An image called RivetingThis week I think I am still on a Summer Brain Vacation! Decided to just play in Photoshop and figure out what to do with some of the wonderful add-ins that are available. Not sure what to call this kind of graphic art so I am making up the name “pseudo scrapbooking” – I do not consider myself a scrapbooker (many scrapbook artists do some incredible work that I have never attempted) and there are no personal images applied. I just tried to emulate a touch of this venue by applying some of these products which improved my skill set and was a lot of fun. It also gave me a chance to work on extracting objects, creating brushes for backgrounds, adding text, and creating some interesting composites. So that’s what I did this week!

The above image just started as a small 7″ X 5″ document at 300 ppi. To begin, a texture brush was used to add some wirey looking lines in a turquoise color on a layer. Then a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer using a free Square Geometric Patterns from Deeezy (these are really interesting patterns) called Square Geo 06 was selected and the layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 80% layer opacity. I also follow Design Cuts and Creative Market – see links below in paragraph. They often contain some wonderful objects that can be used in all kinds of projects and several of these items were added into this image. Creative Market offer for free a small set called Watercolor Clipart Unicorns from Corner Croft – one of the unicorns was selected and his horn removed so he looks like a regular horse. He was set on the slope of the geometric pattern. Also from Creative Market, a shell from Aloha was used and set to 89% layer opacity. The paw print was from Design Cuts Pet Shop Flyer freebies. The bird is from Nicky Laatz at Design Cuts and the pink flower clover is from Peolia at Creative Market. Many of the Creative Market sets are offered free for only for a week and then are added to larger sets. If you sign up for their newsletters, every Monday they send out these free downloads – really a good deal. Same with Deal Jumbo and Deeezy – they offer free fonts and small sets every day in their newsletters. Design Cuts usually offers their freebies on Fridays or when they do a tutorial using some of the items in the bi-weekly items sets they offer for sale (these are usually incredible deals for what they are worth). Two of Grut’s Inky Leaks brushes (these are fabulous spatter brushes) called Split Stain  for the rough edging and Flick Tub around the bird. And don’t forget, each Monday Grut offers a new brush to try out for free so check it out! A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Futuristic Bleak preset. Then a Creative Market action called Goicha from Cinematics 21 was used on the image. This contains five Adjustment Layers to adjust the color of the overall image. The font is called Angelic War. The last step was to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and apply Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle’s Wedgewood Blue and Tan preset as is at 70% layer opacity. Hopefully you will get a chance to check into some of these resources and get some nice items for your PS practice.
Image of My Magical OceanHere is another example of just having a great amount of fun in Photoshop! This actually started with a beautiful flower image from the Harry P Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando, Florida. The flower was extracted using the Select and Refine command. Then I just started playing. I had no idea it would turn out being an underwater fantasy world! I like the story that the Tang and the Water Monster Flower create – and I think the shark is watching out for his Tang buddy. The background was created from five 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Textures all placed in a group. Some solid color blue and yellow color were painted on separate layers behind the swimming fish (brushes from a small but really nice set by Richard Tilbury) and bubbles created using just a small spatter brush. The Clown Tang, Shark, and Seahorse are all from PixelSquid, one of the best sites for very realistic looking and fun objects. (See my How to Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog.) So this really creepy looking plant turned Water Flower Monster was created by taking my beautiful extracted flower image into the Liquify Filter and just pulling and pushing it all around. I was surprised how it turned out! I think I used every tool and it was fun to try them at different sizes on the edges. On a layer above, a sketch brush was used to enhance the lines in the flower for for a more fish-like effect. The same thing was done with the turquoise seaweed on the bottom – it was painted using Prism Light Studios Spiral Brushes-Tie Dye Brushes – Full Spider brush (was a free brush from Creative Market). Then this layer was also taken into Liquify and stretched and twisted to get this rather unique look. Several adjustment layers were added on top for contrast and color. It was just totally fun to create!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer – it is so hot here in Florida that it is more fun to stay inside and play in Photoshop. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO DO A DOUBLE-EXPOSURE FOR FUN EFFECTS

Double-exposure of a Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard PalmThis week I decided to try a little in-camera photo effect and then post-process in Photoshop. In my mind, this is the best of both worlds when trying to put an artistic feel into an image. The above was first shot with my Nikon D-300 camera (I dearly love this camera and can’t seem to part with it!) and shot the image in multiple-exposure mode using just 2 shots. I am not really sure how this type of exposure is supposed to look, but this method seems to fit floral or plant images quite well. This image was taken in my front yard of a Queen Emma Lily in front of a Cardboard Palm. I see this as a very creative blend of the two exposures but it did take some finishing work in Photoshop to get the final interesting feel.

So first the basic workflow for taking a multiple- or double-exposure shot will be covered. It is not that difficult but do consult your camera manual to get the exact menu settings to do this. I will be using the Nikon D-300 menus, which due to its older age, should be similar to what is available on most newer cameras.

1 First set your camera to Manual Focus. To do this on my camera, looking at the front of the camera the Focus Mode Selector dial is located to the lower right of the lens. The dial should be set to M for manual (as opposed to C for continuous auto focus or S for single auto focus).  Note: For my camera, if either the Camera body or the Lens is set to Manual focus, then it must be focused  manually. Many of the lenses will have a Manual focus setting also (usually the lens is set to M/A – switch to M to make it focus manually). I am using the Camera Body setting for this.

2. On the back of the camera, press the Menu button and select the Shooting Menu. Then Scroll down to the Multiple Exposure choice.

  • Select the number of exposures to shoot – the above was just a double exposure so it was set to 2. Up to 10 are allowed.
  • Select whether to turn on Auto Gain. The difference is that when it is on, the exposure time is divided by the number of exposures chosen for the image, and when off, each exposure is exposed for the full amount of time (meaning shutter speed). I had it turned off, but try both to see which looks best.

3. In my camera I need to turn on the Multiple Exposure setting each time an image is to be taken.

It sounds a lot harder than it is. Just have to get familiar with where the settings are. Now you can try different camera settings to get different results. For the above, both of the in-camera exposures were shot using the basic Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens set to 105 mm at F/5.6. Below is what the original out of camera image looks like. First the palm exposure was taken, then moved the camera and took the lily.

Original image of Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard Palm

Post-processing: In Lightroom a Trey Radcliff free preset called Sunday Alone Time was applied and then the Vibrance was lowered (-65) so it was not so colorful. In Photoshop the layer was duplicated and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow was opened and my SJ Inter Web Variation was applied. (Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) The Layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode at 96% layer opacity. A black layer mask (CTRL+click on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added and just the areas I wanted lines to show through were painted back. The Layer Style was opened (double-click on the layer) and on the Underlying Layer slide, the white tab was split (ALT+click) and set to 178/255 before exiting the menu. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. Three filters were used: Midnight with no Blur added, and overall opacity of 73%; Reflector Efex set to Gold with the light coming from bottom up; and Vignette Filter using a darkish brown color and centering on the focal point. Next the also free Nik Viveza 2 (downloads with the above plug-in) was opened and just one control point was placed in the center area to add a little more structure and whitening to the focal point. Last step involved using a New Layer to clean up lines – Grut’s – MI Swish Mini Mixer brush was used to break up the edges of some lines that were too sharp – I love this brush! Check out his other brushes too – so many wonderful ones! This image turned out to be a lot of fun and created a very different type image!

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Double Exposure image of some flowersAnother double-exposure image – used the same Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens sets 150 mm and F/5.6. This was shot with white blinds behind the flowers in a vase and sunlight strong outside. This time for the first exposure just the focus was set to a very soft blur, then the second focused in on the flower to get this soft effect. The double-exposure created an almost translucent feel in the flower petals by shooting into the lighter background. In Lightroom just a few adjustments were made before going into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was added. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Glamour Glow filter and Film Efex Vintage filter (Film Type 13) were stacked. A pink pastel texture of mine was added on top and set to Darker Color blend mode with a layer opacity of 55% – a layer mask was added and the texture was gently painted off the flowers.

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Double exposure image of dandelionsThese dandelions were shot using the same lens at 170 mm and F/5.6. Once again, the background was really defocused for the first exposure and then brought the foreground dandelions into focus for the second. My first thought was to convert this to a black and white so it was brought into Photoshop and the free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (downloads with the other Nik plug-ins) was opened. The Fine Art (high key, framed) preset was selected and the frame removed. Then a Finishing Adjustment using Toning 22 was used to give a warm tone to the overall image. There are lots of really great sliders in this plug-in so give them a try! It was set to 75% layer opacity and actually gives a really nice look at this point. But to get an artistic feel in the image, first 2 Lil’ Owl’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Stained Plaster Collection 17 texture was added to the image and on a layer mask, the foreground dandelions were painted back without the texture. On a stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Brandeis Blue preset was applied. Next another 2 Lil’ Owls texture called After the Rain 14 was added and set to Multiply blend mode at 85% opacity. Another one of her textures was added called Grunge 27 and it was set to Color Dodge blend mode. This added some texture in the bottom foreground – a black layer mask was used to remove all of the texture except this area. That is what was done to get the final image.

I hope this was not over everyone’s head – it really is just a way to change up an image and possibly get a different result. Many people go to much more extremes on shooting the double-exposure adding very different items, more like the first image. And many people are into creating silhouettes for the first exposure and then shooting small flowers for the second exposure for some incredible results. Since I am rather new at this, I stayed pretty basic with this. It does sound like it would be fun so I may have to try that for second go-round on this topic. Therefore if you just want to try something new, give this a try. It is a lot of fun and the final effects can be quite dramatic!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE THE ART HISTORY BRUSH-IT REALLY IS PRETTY NICE!

Image of a historic building's balcony in St. Augustine, FloridaThought this week I would just do a quick blog on this rather older and overlooked feature in Photoshop that can really give your images a pretty decent painterly feel. Even I overlooked it and have not blogged much on this before. There is a lot more to this little jewel than I thought at first. The above image is of a historic balcony on St. Georges Street in the historic district of St. Augustine.

There are just a couple important things you need be know before you start painting away. One – your image needs to be in 8-bit mode (check this out by going to Image -> Mode -> 8-bit) or it will not work, and two – need to start by making a new Snapshot of your image by going to the History Panel. In the pop-out on top right corner of panel, select New Snapshot – when the dialog opens up, in drop-down do not choose Full Document, but Merged Layers. Now you can select that snapshot and you should be able to paint either directly on the image, or on a layer above. I recommend you watch Julieanne Kost, the Adobe Photoshop guru, short video called Secrets of the Art History Brush that goes over all the brush settings and how to really make your images just stand out.

So where do you find the Art History brushes? Photoshop only supplies one default Art History Tool preset (click on the far left arrow next to the tool icon in the Options Bar to see loaded choices). There are other Art History brush presets provided by PS, but you need to click on the Wheel at the top right of the Tools Panel and select Load. By default you should see several other tool choices (Tool Presets include different brushes and others tool presets) so select the Art History Brushes – 10 more Art History brushes should now appear in the Tools panel that can be used.  Also, Jack Davis, possibly my favorite Photoshop guru (I have blogged about his PS painting techniques often), offers 20 Art History brushes that are from 2002, but work just fine in the current PS versions. You can download them by going to Jack Davis Wow Facebook page and clicking on the More tab – then Freebies. There is a One-Click Wow Photoshop Presets Mini Sampler that can be downloaded. It is not really that hard to make your own brushes by first selecting the Art History Brush (which resides with the History Brush) and then selecting a brush from the Brush Preset Panel. Now by changing the settings in the Options Bar, you can get many different effects. Check out the Style field in the Options Bar to get a lot of choices.

To create the image above, the Background layer was opened in Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression where a watercolor effect preset was applied. Then a snapshot of the layer was created and the paintbrush was set next to this snapshot in the History Panel. A Pattern Fill Layer using a canvas type pattern was added above the Background layer set to a low layer opacity to see through to paint to get some background texture. It was increased layer when done painting. A Solid Fill layer could just as easily be used. On a New Layer on top the Artist Brush was used to paint over the image. Since the whole layer was not painted, you get a mix of the original Topaz Impression effect and the Art History brush strokes. I also used a chalk brush as an Art History brush to paint in some of the edges on another New Layer. On another separate layer, a scatter watercolor regular brush was used to add some more texture interest in the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was needed on top to add some of the contrast back into the image but that was about all there was to it.

Image of a Flower Cart at SeaWorld OrlandoThe flower cart image from SeaWorld Orlando was used to create this image. This time I painted just the cart over a white Solid Fill Adjustment Layer using PS’s Oil Sketch Art History Brush. When finished painting, one of my Corel Painter textures was added over the Fill Layer before applying Alien Skin’s Snap Art’s Autumn Abstract preset to a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer. Another Snapshot was created by going to the pop-out and selecting New and Merged Layers. With the Art History brush set to the right edge of this new Snapshot in the History Panel, a New Layer was created and PS’s Butterfly Madness Art History brush was used to pop up the flowers a little and some of the edges – that is the scattered edge effect you see. That was about all that was done, but by combining with some of the other PS plug-ins, the Art History brushes can give some pretty nice results!

The images I created are pretty basic. I think with a little more experimentation better results can be obtained. This is a really an easy process and there is a lot of flexibility after trying it out and seeing what you can do with it. You can use any number of snapshots with different effects on them – like adding contrast or changing colors, etc. The basic limitation is that once you close out of the document, you lose all your snapshots and you will have to reconstruct them if you want to work on the image some more. On the other hand, it does not take too long to get a pretty nice result. Definitely worth playing with and combining with other painting techniques. I was really surprised how it worked so well with Topaz Impression. Well that’s it for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use the Smudge Tool


HOW TO SEE IF YOU CAPTURED THE FOCAL POINT

Image of two painted Blue HeronsJust a short blog to say Hi with another one of my bird shots from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. Thought I would review my focal point tips with you even though I have covered this recently. It is such a crucial part of both digital photography and digital painting to make your images successful. It is also one of the areas I struggle with the most.

Also I have been trying to get a good stroke with the Mixer Brushes in Photoshop. I am learning it is really important to have a good blending mixer brush, a good mixer to add color in very gently, and a good regular sketch brush to straighten up lines in your image. I can’t tell you how many clean up layers were in this image. Instead of adding a texture, this time the clean up involved using Mixer Brushes to smooth and remove the very cluttered appearance of nature behind the birds which was so distracting. (See left image below.) Found a very creamy oily brush (used Fay Sirkis‘s 04 Precious Oil Diamond Blender in case you have her brushes – love her Photoshop brushes for painting) to blend in areas to remove the distractions.

It was difficult determining what was important enough to leave in the image besides the birds. I did not want to totally remove the birds from their natural habitat, but in this image it was over-taking the birds in the image. Therefore lots of removing, checking it out, and removing more. Also needed to remember that people are drawn to the eyes and beak of a bird, so those needed to be pretty sharp even though they are painted. Used the Exposure Adjustment Layer again to help with this. (See How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop.)

Two quick tricks can be an aid to determining if the focal point is actually correct:

1. Squint your eyes and see what pops out at you. Lots of painters use this trick and it seems to really help when looking at a busy image.

2. Add a temporary Black and White Adjustment Layer on top of your image and see what pops out at you. If your background is showing up too much, need to subdue it.

Here is what the original image looked like and what the final image looks like with the Black & White Adjustment Layer added. My focal point was the bird beaks and you can see how the beaks stand out nicely – in the original they blended much more into their bodies.

As a last step Nik Viveza 2 was used to create a soft vignette effect. I am finding I also use the Black & White Adjustment Layer at the beginning of my workflow to see where the tonal contrast is before I start post-processing the image. If that area is not where you want the eye to go, you have some work to do. Hope you have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer To See Contrast In an Image
What About This Focal Point Issue?


HOW TO DO A QUICK EYE SHARPENING IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of a Blue Heron in her nest with eggThought I would just do a quick post while taking some blogging time off. Don’t forget to check in on my short Tidbits Blog though. This beautiful Heron was very busy organizing her nest at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery.This is another image I painted in Photoshop using a couple Blender Mixer Brushes, meaning no color was added – just blending and smoothing the color that was already there.

This Calvin Hollywood eye technique is one I use all the time. The bird’s eye was sharpened by selecting the eye in Quick Mode (press Q – be sure Color Indicated is set to Selected Areas and press Q again to exit Quick Mode) although any selection tool works fine, and then opening up the Exposure Adjustment Layer. Now just the eye is showing as white in a black layer – if this is backwards, just CTRL+I in mask to invert. Set the Exposure to the right a little (which lightens the exposure of the eye) and then adjust the Offset (sliding to left darkens shadow areas) and sometimes the Gamma Correction (affects the midtones of area) – watch for any milky or color shifts with the Offset slider which means you have gone too far. Go back to the Exposure slider for final adjustment. For example, my settings were Exposure +2.06, Offset -0.0100, and Gamma Correction +1.04, which means the eye was brightened by 2 exposure stops and midtones evened out a little. To further enhance the brightness of the eye, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Copy the Layer Mask from the Exposure Adjustment Layer by ALT+clicking on mask and dragging up – it will ask if you want to replace the mask – say yes. Adjust the Saturation slider and change the whole Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer to Luminosity blend mode so only brightness is changed in the eye.

Very little else was done to this image. Used a Curves Adjustment Layers to make a slight Vignette around the bird and to adjust the blue color in the image, and a Levels Adjustment Layer to open up the midtones a little. This is too much fun!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO PAINT AN IMAGE USING REGULAR AND MIXER BRUSHES IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of several American Coots swimming at the Viera WetlandsThis week I thought I would discuss how to turn an ordinary picture into something with a bit of “creative flair” using a couple basic brushes in Photoshop. This is not a new topic for me but I keep coming back to it since this is how I spend a lot of my time working creatively. I had such a fun time going with the Photography Club of Flagler County to the beautiful Ritch Grissom Memorial Viera Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. I really love photographing and painting nature and these little American Coots were one of my favorite subjects from the day! Probably not what everyone was looking at, but I thought they were very entertaining! Hum! I knew most of my images would be similar to the many taken by the group and that is one reason why I wanted to do something a little different with them! So the image above was changed drastically by just adding a nice texture and painting in Photoshop. And it will look different and hopefully everyone gets a feeling of what I was experiencing when watching these entertaining creatures.

So exactly how did I do this? There are not really that many steps – I have included settings in case you are interested in getting some similar results.

1. For me the first step is always Lightroom – used Seim’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Sunday Cross preset. Usually I just go through and look at the different presets in the Navigator until one is found that suits the image. Also an Adjustment Brush set to Clarity 73 and Sharpness 65 was used to sharpen anything in the image that may need it. Just be sure that before opening the photo in Photoshop, the Lens Correction section has checked the Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration boxes. Can save problems down the road. Also, now is a good time to Crop your image as it is easier and faster than in Photoshop. This photo was cut almost in half and only the foreground grass and birds were left.

This Photoshop file was divided into two Groups – one containing the Filters and Textures used and the other has the Painting layers.

2. Since Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 is my second most used filter that I own and used almost exclusively at the beginning of my Photoshop workflow. It is used to overall sharpen my images. Sometimes Topaz Clarity is applied instead for the same reason with a slightly different result. Detail has always served me well and this image shows why. There are some very painterly effects that Detail can give by just creating and using a preset. On a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), one of my presets was applied – it basically removed all the sharp edges, and but left some very pretty colors that is used as an Underpainting layer. (The settings are: Detail Overall – all the details are set to -1.00 and all the Boosts are left at 0; no Tone changes; and Color Temperature -0.27, Tint 0.34, Saturation -0.65, and Saturation Boost 0.21.) This gives a really flat look to the image. A layer mask was added and with a small black brush, just the eyes were painted back and kept sharp. The preset layer and mask were duplicated and set to Linear Dodge (Add) and set to set to 77% layer opacity to lighten up the image overall.

3. Now the texture was added and usually a bit of trial and error is done to figure out which to select. In this case at least 5 textures from different people were tried before the effect that looked best was found. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Mosaic Set Destine was applied and set to Darken blend mode at 69% layer opacity. This texture was chosen because the colors gave the image almost that “golden hour” feel and it seemed perfect for this nature image. A layer mask was added and the ducks were painted black so that the colors in the texture did not interfere with the white feathers in the birds.

4. A stamped layer was created on top next (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and converted into a Smart Object. Nik Viveza 2 (my most used and favorite Photoshop filter) and a control point was placed only on the ducks (Brightness 31%, Contrast 48%, and Structure 100%). On the same layer Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied and Fly Paper’s Nik Color Efex Preset Thialand Surfing was selected for this image. (The filters in this preset were Detail Extractor, Cross Processing Darken/Light Center, Glamour Glow and Reflector Efex.) These are inexpensive presets that have really helped me speed up my workflow in this program. This layer was then set to 76% layer opacity so as not to overdo the results.

5. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to bring back a little contrast since textures can often removed it.

Now all but the bottom Background layer were put into a Group (CTRL+G in Layers Panel) and named Filters and Texture. The image actually looked pretty good at this point, but it seemed to be begging for some paint strokes.

6. Now the fun started. What makes this image so painterly is what brushes are used to get the effects. You cannot do this with just a soft round brush – you need to use the Brush Panel sections to add texture and jitter to your strokes. So lets create some useful brushes. For a regular painting brush, my Pastel Brush is used most often for regular painting in Photoshop.  (I used Pastel 11 in SDW Pastel Brushes-a free brush that comes in as a huge 2130 px brush! Used these settings:Brush Tip Shape section Size 35 pixels, Angle 137 degrees, and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics section Angle Jitter 8% and Control Pen Pressure; Texture section using the Rough texture or any texture I feel like, Scale 87%, Brightness -45, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50% and Depth Jitter 1%; and Smoothing – if these settings are not working for you, just move the sliders around, especially in the texture section, until you see something you like in the bottom preview.) You really need to find a brush that works for you and use it. I also like my really basic Chalk 60 Brush that just has an Angle Jitter of 19% – you can always add in other items like texture or dual brush for different paint strokes. Just save as a variant.

A good blending Mixer Brush is also needed to blend in some of the more obvious edges of the regular brush to get that soft painterly look. A lot of Photoshop’s canned Mixer brushes are really good. I find the Flat Fan Single Bristle Wet Edge Brush in the Wet Media Brushes from Photoshop to be really good for both a Mixer and regular painting brush. Any brush can be a Mixer brush by turning on the Mixer Brush in the Tools Panel and then selecting the brush in the Brush Picker. The regular brush created above makes a really nice smooth mixing effect as a Mixer. Just remember if you do not want to add any color to the image but just want to mix or blend colors or hard edges, be sure to untoggle the “Load the Brush After Every Stroke” in the Options Bar – otherwise you will get some amount of color being added. In the large drop down in the Options Bar there are a lot of choices to try out for painting. Just experiment. You can get very different effects by just adjusting the Shape of the brush by dragging on the the little circular graphic on the right under the Size slider. Just watch the preview for the results of the changes. I like a rougher edge to give more of a brush-like effect and used the same brush as both a regular brush and Mixer brush for a lot of this painting.

7. Ten layers were added for painting and clean up. I like to switch between the regular brush strokes on one layer and Mixer brush strokes on another since the effects are so different. I have the brushes set up so that B is the regular brush and A is the Mixer brush (this was changed by going to Edit -> Keyboard Shortcuts and selecting Tools) for fast switching. Two different brushes can be connected with each type of brush. With the regular brush, you can sample the color by ALT+clicking in the image and then just start dabbing. With the Mixer brush, you can either click anywhere in the image to get what color is under the brush tip, or you must click on the color swatch to sample in the image and change just one color. Not sure why they are different. If you make a lot of changes to the brush, save it as a Brush Preset by clicking on the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brush Panel or Brush Picker –  Photoshop always sets the brush back to the default settings when you click on it brush again.

For this layer, I really wanted the colors to show up in the foreground grass and reeds so first the regular brush was used at a very small size to add in a little rough grainy edge feel and color, then on the layer above, it was turned into a blending mixer and smoothed out some. Did the same thing on the birds and with the reflections. You can paint as much as you want and can adjust the blend modes and layer opacities to adjust the look. I sampled lots of the colors from the texture to get its colors in the foreground.

8. All the Painting layers were put in a group just to keep it all organized. A final Curves Adjustment Layer was added to get the contrast exactly right.

Painted Image of pink and white flowers in a vaseAbove is another image created with some inexpensive flowers and vase from the Dollar Store and shot with a white cardboard background. This is a good way to practice your flower shooting and post-processing. It was then painted in Photoshop using the basic steps from above. French Kiss’ Solstice Elan2 (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) was used as the texture. A 2B Pencil brush was actually used as a Mixer to get fine detail in this image.

I am constantly surprised how nice an image can look with just a few brush strokes added to give it your own look. It is not that hard – just find a couple brushes you like and adjust them to fit what you are doing. It is lots of fun and you do not have to be a major artist to get a beautiful representation of your image. Hope you get a chance to try out the brushes – I know you will love the results once you try it!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just Painting in Photoshop and Having Fun!
6 Tips for Painting in Photoshop
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
Photoshop Brush Fun!


HOW TO CREATE A PHOTOSHOP ARTISTIC TREE

My Robinia Tree created using the Photoshop Tree FilterSounds simple enough! It is but it is not. Had a lot of fun trying out a few techniques and going back and forth between Photoshop and Painter. Unfortunately, I believe this will be my workflow since both programs have things I like.

So let’s start with this top image. This actually is a tree that was created in Photoshop with their relatively new Tree Filter – it is in both Photoshop CC (go to Edit->Fill->Pattern Fill and open Scripts-has a few of the sliders missing from CC2014) and CC2014 (go to Filters->Render->Tree). It took some experimenting to get what I consider an artistic feel to the tree, but it can be done. Two files were created to do this. First I found a texture that I liked – it was Anna Lenabem’s Texture 208. (If you have not seen her textures, check them out – they are absolutely beautiful!) Next the tree was created on a New Layer above. (Here are the settings in case you want to see how it was done: Base Tree Type:  Robinia; Light Direction 180, Camera Tilt 3, Leaves Amount 100, Leaves Size 98, Branches Height 100, Branches Thickness 112, Check Default Leaves, Check Custom Color for Leaves – color used R255/G255/Blue147, Check Custom Color for Branches R238/G128/B99, and Arrangement 94.9.) I think I am turning into a Blake Rudis “groupie” – he definitely has the best tutorial on how to create trees in Photoshop – see his recent video tutorial called How to Make a Tree in Photoshop CC. He also gave me the idea to try and make a fine art image out if it. Now here is where it gets a little sticky – the layer was duplicated and just the tree was taken into Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression. (Here is my preset and the settings applied: SJ WC like Effect preset-Stroke: Brush Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0.15, St -0.20, and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and Lightness 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting: Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, and Light Direction x0.33 and y0.06; and Texture: Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type Solid, and Background #d38967 (soft melon color). Changes I made to it: Stroke Color Variation 0.52, and Green Sat -1.00 and Lightness 0.) The layer was set to 63% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed and clipped to tree layer on top with Master Hue set to -43, Sat +36, and Lightness 0 – this added some pink tones into the leaves. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 was applied. (Here are the settings used:  SJ Abstract Large Color Variation – Artistic Style Oil Paint; Background:  Brush Size 27, Photorealism 4, Paint Thickness 100, Stroke Length 49, Color Variation 73, Brush Style Bristle Brush, and Random Seed 418; Detail Masking none; Colors Brightness 59, Contrast -14, Saturation 54, and Temperature 33; Lighting: Highlight Brightness 45, Highlight Size 26, Direction 120, Angle 65, Color White; Vignette none; and Canvas Rough Paper, Thickness 26, Zoom 16, Texture Paper, rough, Color white.)  Since it puts the layer on white background, the layer was set to Multiply back in Photoshop and the layer opacity set to just 21%. The last step in this file added a Gaussian Blur filter with the Radius set to 1.1 – added a black layer mask and painted back just the sharp edges of some of the leaves that looked unnatural. Saved this image and then saved another version that was flattened to take into Corel Painter. Here is what the image looked like at this point.

Image of Tree as taken into Corel Painter

All that was done in Corel Painter is a New Layer was added and Karen Bonaker’s Bare Trees brush from her Holiday 2014 Brush-a-Day Set (this is brush 1) was used to add the trees in the background. The file was saved as a PSD file and taken back into Photoshop where the Painter layer was set to 49% layer opacity. A little clean up was done on a New Layer. Next Painted Textures Desert Sky Canvas texture was applied twice, first set to Divide blend mode at Fill of 26%, and the second one set to Linear Burn at 68%. Another stamped layer was created and the image was taken into Nik Viveza 2 where the focal point was clarified just a little – I love what this filter does to a photo! Created a stamped layer and this time another of my all-time favorite plug-ins, Topaz ReStyle, was added. (These settings were used: Silver and Ivory Cloak preset – Set ReStyle to Screen at 53% opacity and Texture 1.00; Basic Tone Temperature -0.34;  Black Level 0.66, Midtones -0.27, and White Level 0.05; and Detail Structure 0.39.) On a New Layer above back in Photoshop, the Blur Tool was used to further blur the edges of just the dark leaves on the tree that appeared too sharp. The last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to give a little more contrast. That was it – a really involved workflow, but it was not that hard – just a lot of experimenting. It was really fun to create something that looks so artistic with just filters!
Image of Robinia tree using the Photoshop Tree FilterThis is the same tree – the only difference in the whole workflow is that I used a different preset for Topaz ReStyle – the Guite Chrysanthemum preset. The settings were lost but is was slightly lightened in the plug-in. I liked the results so I thought I would show you what a different color palette can do for the image. I really like the way the oranges and blues play off each other.

Hope this blog gave you some ideas on how to use your filters with the Tree Filter in Photoshop. It really can give some beautiful results. And what the heck is a Robinia Tree? Have a great week and grow a Photoshop tree!…..Digital Lady Syd


ONE YEAR OF LEARNING TO PAINT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


HOW TO USE A PHOTO FRAME MASK

Image is of a poster with Dewey Duck at Epcot at Disney World OrlandoThis week I decided to play around with some photo masks – some very nice ones that I purchased from French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) called Brayered Blocks Clipping Masks and others that are free to download or I created. The masks make some interesting framing effects, especially when stacked. They are actually a lot of fun to use, but it does take some understanding as to how the masks work to get a nice result. This short tutorial that Nicole created on how to use her masks called Using and Embellishing Photo Masks was very helpful and she has several other related blogs to view. The image of Dewey above took a lot of clean up as this image was taken of a display with lots of glass reflection. Check out Image 1 below for all the gory details on how I did this crazy image and how to add in this type of mask! This one took a while to do! Image of painted gondolas with special framingThis generic image of some gondolas used photo masks created using brushes. A new image was created with the photo added on top. This time Shadowhouse Creations Grunge Frames brushes, which are a free download, were used twice to get this effect along with a free photo mask from French Kiss Collections Facebook page. Now the trick is to get this all connected together correctly. Check out Image 2 information below to get the steps on how this was done. Some quick points on using these photo masks. Try using the Free Transform on the different layers to line up your masks to your image or get rid of any edges from the image you see. Usually it is not the photo mask you think that is causing the problem – check out the others. Also, if you just cannot seem to get rid of the line from edge, try just painting in your original image with the background color to remove it. Photo masks can be made fairly easily by using some of the available brushes, like those from Shadowhouse Creations, or by using your own watercolor brushes on a layer. Just start by adding in some texture effects to your brush – can use a lower opacity and get a layered edge. Try using two different brushes together. I even made a couple by just using brushes in Corel Painter and opening the file in Photoshop – just needed to do a Select -> Color Range and in drop down choose Highlights so the whites are selected – then check the invert box. Add a layer mask to the brush layer, right click to apply the layer mask, and there is your photo mask. Now create a brush by using the Rectangular Marquee and placing around the strokes, and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. Actually not as hard as it sounds. Screen shot of photo mask layers in PhotoshopThe screen shot shows how this pretty basic image set up. (Click on image to see larger view in Flickr.) I created the photo mask using free Watercolour Brushes by Leyla – no. 1 and 6 at 30% brush opacity and using black as a color. Just left the edges lighter and painted more in the center area. The layer was duplicated and reduced in size to fit the image. When edges showed up on this image, the actual image was changed in size to adjust for them but also I had to sample the background to get rid of parts of it. The layer mask was used to make some of the lower flowers slightly pop out into the photo mask. You can always go back into the mask you created and paint in more color or erase some to fit the look you want. The interesting background texture is from Kim Klassen called deepsigh. Hope you get a chance to try this type of effect and maybe experiment with making your masks. This is really a lot of fun to do and I have to thank Nicole at French Kiss Collections for bringing this concept to my attention!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just a Frame Flower

Image Information:

Image 1:  How did I get rid of the reflections? In Photoshop I used my Chalk Brush (regular Chalk Brush 60 with the Angle Jitter set to 19% in the Shape Dynamics – can’t tell you how much I use this brush in place of a regular round brush!). At a lower brush opacity of roughly 30%, the colors were sampled from the image as I painted over the reflections. Next the image was opened in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression and the Edward Hopper II preset was applied. A flattened version was created and opened in a new document. On a layer underneath the image, French Kiss  Brayered Blocks 01 was added and a light pink Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip). Under that a mask another mask was added, Brayered Blocks 05, where a brownish color was used in another clipped Solid Color Adjustment Layer. On the original image a layer mask was added and with my Chalk Brush, the edges were brushed around the inside edges to get a rough looking inside frame edge. At this point a Group called Dewey Frame was created and collapsed to keep everything straight. (Highlight your layers and press CTRL+G to place in a group – then rename.) Upper text was added using 1942 report with an outer glow added. The text layer was duplicated and rasterized (right click and choose Rasterize) and the original text layer was turned off. Under the rasterized text layer, another mask, Brayered Blocks 12 was added and warped to fit underneath the text. French Kiss Chalkboard 2 texture was clipped to the actual brayered block mask layer, and a Solid Color Adjustment Layer was also clipped to this layer using a brown color. Another group was created called Upper Text Group. Just above the Background Layer French Kiss’s Tableaux Northern2Z texture was moved into the file. An image of the Epcot Ball was moved into the image above this texture and adjusted off-center. It had been previously turned into a black and white image and this layer was set to a 71% opacity. Clipped to this image only was a Curves Adjustment Layer and a blue to white Gradient Adjustment Layer at 52% layer opacity – this gave nice sharp edges to ball pattern. Now the layers involving the Epcot Ball selected and grouped together. The last steps involved adding the text for Epcot Center – this is the Prototype Community 25 little letter a. A layer style was added to the font – Inner Glow for the white edging (Choke 24% and Size 29 px), Color Overlay to get the matching center brSo here are the image details – there are lots of them here so skip down if this puts you to sleep. How did I get rid of the reflection? In Photoshop I used my Chalk Brush (regular Chalk Brush 60 with the Angle Jitter set to 19% in the Shape Dynamics – can’t tell you how much I use this brush in place of a regular round brush!). At a lower brush opacity of roughly 30%, the colors were sampled from the image as I painted over the reflections. Next the image was opened in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression and the Edward Hopper II preset was applied. A flattened version was opened in a new document. On a layer underneath the image, French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Brayered Blocks 01 was added and a light pink Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip). Under that a mask another mask was added, Brayered Blocks 05, where a brownish color was used in another clipped Solid Color Adjustment Layer. On the original image a layer mask was added and with my Chalk Brush, the edges were brushed around the inside edges to get a rough looking inside frame edge. At this point a Group called Dewey Frame was created and collapsed to keep everything straight. (Highlight your layers and press CTRL+G to place in a group – then rename.) Upper text was added using 1942 report with an outer glow added. The text layer was duplicated and rasterized (right click and choose Rasterize) and the original text layer was turned off. Under the rasterized text layer, another mask, Brayered Blocks 12 was added and warped to fit underneath the text. French Kiss Chalkboard 2 texture was clipped to the actual Brayered Block mask layer, and a Solid Color Adjustment Layer was also clipped to this layer using a brown color. Another group was created called Upper Text Group. Just above the Background Layer French Kiss’s Tableaux Northern2Z texture was moved into the file. An image of the Epcot Ball was moved into the image above this texture and adjusted off-center. It had been previously turned into a black and white image and this layer was set to a 71% opacity. Clipped to this image only was a Curves Adjustment Layer and a blue to white Gradient Adjustment Layer at 52% layer opacity – this gave nice sharp edges to ball pattern. Now the layers involving the Epcot Ball selected and grouped together. The last steps involved adding the text for Epcot Center – this is the Prototype Community 25 little letter a. A layer style was added to the font – own tone, and Drop Shadow (Opacity 34%, Spread 35% and Size 57 px). On a New Layer the I Love Donald Brushset for CS3 by xxxNightwingxxx-Donald brush 28 was used and an Outer Glow layer style was added using the pink color set to Structure Opacity of 62%, Spread 48%, Size of 6, Range of 83% and a Contour in a set called 50 Contours that I am having trouble finding the download link. The two text layers and were Grouped in a Donald and Text group. Last step involved created a stamped version (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E). Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the Disney sketch in this image. A New Layer was added and with a round soft brush set to 250 px at 12% brush opacity, a couple large sweeps were painted over the upper text block as it appeared over-powering. A New Layer was created on top and French Kiss Spatter4-01 brush was selected – the Color Dynamics section of selected in the Brush Panel where the Foreground/Background Jitter was set to 49 and Brightness Jitter set to 54% and in the Shape Dynamics section the Angle Jitter was set to 40%. This gave the randomness of the spatters with color sampled from the image. This layer was set to 76% opacity and a layer mask was added where the spatters were removed from Donald and the Epcot Center text mainly. I could do this kind of image all day! Got to love Disney! Image 2:  A new document was created – 7 inches x 7 inches at 300 ppi. The gondola is one first painted in Corel Painter and you can see the final image at my Hanging With the Gondolas! Tidbits Blog along with the specifics used in Painter. Next in Photoshop the image was opened in Smart Photo Editor (the settings used were: Applied Photo-art at a click o50 by andrewb2012 – Effect Controls: Master Fade all the way right; Multi-color Match 0.81, Exp -0.029, Highlight Clipping 0.254, High Clip Detail 0.044, Vibrance 0.673, Hue -1.000, Sat -0.312, Bright 1.156, Gamma -0.223, Contrast -0.085, High Clipl 0.421, High Clipl Detail 0.54, Vibrance 0.85, Hue 0.146, and Sat 0.265). Check out last week’s Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In blog. This is the image that was later added to my file above. Above the background layer which had a golden tone added to it, French Kiss Dusky Rose texture was added and set to Overlay at 100%. A New Layer was created and with one click using a black Shadowhouse Creations Frame 1 brush which size was adjusted to fit the image, a block mask was created. Next a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to the block mask layer, and from 10 Free Seamless Colored Splatter Textures from Idealhut, Pattern o2 was applied. This pattern can be moved in the image to adjust it the way you it to look – I have used these patterns a lot over the years. Next French Kiss free Photo Mask was added, set to Screen blend mode, and a light creamy orange color Solid Color Adjustment Layer was clipped to the French Kiss’s photo mask. Shadowhouse Creations Grunge Brush 10 was added next and then the gondola image was brought in. Both layers were adjusted using the Free Transform (CTRL+T) – do the image first, then clip it to the Grunge Mask, and then adjust that to fit the image. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get the color just he way I liked them.


MORE PAINTING WITH TOPAZ IMPRESSION!

Image of Mickey Mouse on a sign when entering Epcot at Disney World OrlandoSince I am having a pretty busy month, thought I would just pop in with another short post on this interesting new plug-in – definitely a fun one to try out on different images. The above was the sign that greets you upon entering Epcot during their Food and Wine Festival at Disney World Orlando. It felt like it should have a more painterly look to it, so I pulled Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression out to try to get the effect. Since the image really did not really lend itself to something I wanted to paint, Impression just might give me the feel I wanted quickly.

This was a pretty simple workflow. In Lightroom Seim’s (see sidebar atmy Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Super HDR and Tint Golden Sepia were used. In Photoshop the Shade Reduction filter was then applied. This image did not need to be so sharp (in which case I always use Topaz Detail 3) since the painted feel does not require it. Duplicated the layer (CTRL+J) and just selected the background from sign foreground and created a layer mask. Then duplicated this layer and inverted the layer mask be CTRL+I in it – now the foreground was selected. On the bottom masked layer, Topaz Impression was opened and the SJ Colored Pencil preset was selected (see preset settings in my New Impression of Octopus and Seahorse) – then changed the Red Hue to -0.54, Red Saturation 0.31, and Yellow Hue 0.13. Back in Photoshop the foreground layer was selected and taken into Impression – this time Chiaroscuro II preset was chosen but the Lighting Brightness, Contrast, and Vignette were all set to 0. Back in Photoshop again, the layer with the background showing was duplicated and placed on top so that a Gaussian Blur set to 6.1 could be applied to make the trees just slightly out-of-focus. On some New Layers clean up was done – mainly getting some color into Mickey’s face so he was the focal point and to smooth the paint where some splotchiness appeared from the Chiaroscuro preset. Mickey still did not stand out quite the way I wanted him to, so a Curves Adjustment Layer was added with no settings – just filled the mask black and changed the blend mode to Multiply. Then with a white brush set to 30% brush opacity, Mickey was painted back to make him stand out. I liked the way two different presets in Impressions produced this interesting result. And got to love Mickey!
Charcoal Rendition of Ormond-By-the Sea Beach in FloridaThis charcoal of a hotel on the beach in Ormond-By-the-Sea near Ormond Beach, Florida, was created using Topaz Impression’s Charcoal I preset – it is the first one that comes up in their Favorites preset grouping and it sort of just popped out at me. I would never have made it a charcoal if I had not seen it applied in the thumbnail. This is what I like about this plug-in – it gives you some new ideas on what can be done with your images. I did not make any changes to the preset. I did add a New Layer on top and with a brush created in Photoshop, some of the shadows were in the foreground beach area were emphasized. This brush was created from one of Melissa Gallo’s Pencil Sketch Brushes provided with her Painting in Photoshop Workshop – just did some tweaks and sampled some color in the image to add a pencil-stroke type feel. (This is a really good set of videos by Melissa.)

Image of a Wooden Windmill in BelarusThis windmill was painted using Topaz Impression and following a very short interesting You Tube video by Blake Rudis called Topaz Impression Mixed Media. I am not sure I like this particular combination of media on this image, but I wanted to try out his example. It is a similar workflow to the one in my first image, but Blake did a nice job of presenting his specific workflow. If you want specifics of what each slider does, Blake did an introductory video called Topaz Impression Review & Tutorial and I found it very helpful. Also Michael Hardisty did a really nice overview in his Topaz Impression – Release the Artist blog on the program and some different examples of other effects presets.

I really like the plug-in the more I am using it. As Blake says, it is different from the other programs out there. If you like the artistic feel, it is definitely worth a trial download. I think it does the nicest charcoal emulation that I have seen. Try downloading the trial and see what you think. Hope you have as much fun experimenting as I have been!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression
New Impression of Octopus and Seahorse
Painting a Painter