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.
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.
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)
I 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
This 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.
The 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
This 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.
Here 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
This 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.
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!
Another 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.
These 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
Thought 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.
The 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
Just 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?