Anything Photoshop or Photography

Photoshop Brushes

FINDING A PHOTOSHOP BRUSH IN A BIG SET

Drawn and painted image of a Red Legged Honey Creeper Bird

So how do you keep all your great Photoshop brushes organized and how do you remember what they look like for a given effect? This blog shows what I have been doing to combat this huge Photoshop brush debacle! I have two tips on how to do this.

For the past several months, Kyle T. Webster (Adobe Brush Evangelist) has been creating videos on how to use some of the different brushes in his PS sets. It got me to thinking about how to see these brushes and their strokes quickly to decide if I wanted to apply any to an image. Since Kyle has over 2000 brushes to download, with 400 in his Megapack alone, it can get very confusing. (Note: To download these brushes, open PS and go to the Brush Panel’s upper right corner drop-down menu and choose Get More Brushes. If you are on the PS subscription service, you will be able to choose any of his sets.) And if you are like me, I am always on the lookout for other great brushes such as the fabulous GrutBrushes (he gives a free one away every Monday so check him out – you won’t be disappointed with them), Aaron Blaise brushes (the wonderful Disney drawer with lots of nice brushes and wildlife tutorials – watch for his great sales), and Maddy Bellwoar (Adobe Create artist that has some beautiful painterly brushes and great weekly painting videos), to name just a few. Just these few artists’ brushes create a huge amount to organize!

For a quick bit of info on the image above (which was really just a practice image BTW and not finished), it was drawn by following a video by Maddy on Behance called Painting Beautiful Birds in Photoshop. Below most of her videos is a link to download a free set of 44 brushes and many were used on the blue bird she painted. Below is my stroke page for these brushes. (See my American Goldfinch Tidbits Blog for more info on Maddy and her brushes.)

First Tip: Create a Brush Group with Duplicates of Brushes Used in Image

The first tip is what I now do anytime a new image is painted. It is very important that the layers are labeled with the different brushes being used so you know where they were applied in your painting – then you can see how to create a similar effect in another painting.

  • When painting, click the “Create a New Group” in the Brushes Panel – click on Folder icon at bottom and name it. See in screenshot below.
  • A duplicate of any brush being used is created as I paint. To duplicate a brush, highlight the brush to copy and press the middle box with a (+) icon next to the Group icon. Sometimes the duplicated brush will show a different name (the Soft Airbrush below shows a name of Soft Round 200 730) so it is renamed back to the original and sometimes the initials of the brush artist, like MW is added if needed. (You can save any brush you want this way – just rename and decide if you want the Tool Type, Size and Color saved with the brush in the New Brush dialog box.)
  • Then highlight and drag the duplicate brush to the new group. Below is an example of all the Bird brushes used so far for the top image.
  • When finished, be sure to save the Group of brushes by highlighting all the brushes in the Group – then in upper right drop-down menu, choose Export Selected Brushes and Name the file on your computer (I usually use the image name and place in a special folder called Project Set Brushes). It will save down as a PS brush .abr file. If you add more brushes later, the file can always be saved over with the added brushes. To open file in PS, go to the drop-down again and select Import Brushes – go to the file and double click and it will be shown at the bottom of your brush list. Very handy to have!
Image of brushes used in bird image.

Second Tip: Make Brush Stroke PSD Files for Reference in Bridge

Kyle recently created a really interesting video called Brush Hour: the Fall 2021 Brush Set on his Fall 2021 set of 26 brushes where he drew a Halloween-looking guy like below. For this image it was really good practice to try and emulate what he did just to learn how to use the brushes. (I also learned how to stack drawing layer effects in this video.) No Brush Panel Group was created since most of the brushes used were in the his Fall 2021 set.

Drawing of a vampire in Photoshop

To keep brushes straight in all of Kyle’s free sets from Photoshop, or any others I have downloaded, a Photoshop PSD document was created for each stroke, and anything else can be placed in it. Two files are usually made with big sets of brushes – often my own little sketches using the brushes are added. Below is an example of my Fall 2021 Brushes Set showing each brush – the ones liked are marked with a dot. (For the vampire pix, the Double Edged Hatch, Boxit, Circlez, Ripopolo, Pigmentia Edge, and Ratchet brushes were used just to create the background. Then Pigmentia and Rachet were mainly used to create the character but also a little Concept Pencil and Vincent for Vincent Van Gogh were also used – you can see I liked several of these brushes.)

Examples of Kyles Fall 2021 Brushes

Below is the sheet created of Maddy’s Free Brush strokes. (Click on the image to see better in Flickr.) The third brush in the top row is one I created (from a Maddy video) based on the second brush – it has been saved with the brushes in this set file. The Canvas Size (go to Edit -> Canvas Size) was extended to accommodate all the brush strokes in this set (it would be hard to print the files out this way as it needs two files for printing).

Image of Maddy's Free Brush and Variations

The PSD file is saved and placed into a folder to access in Adobe Bridge (mine is called Paintbrush Example Files). This way the files can be reviewed very quickly to see where the needed brush is located or to find a good one to use. Below shows my folder of some of the PSD files in Bridge.

If there is an interesting technique being used, select the Note Tool (toggled with the Eyedropper Tool and several others) to include this info with your image for extra reference – this can show brush change info, like adding a Color Dynamics section to it or changing the spacing of the brush. Or if a change is made to a brush, it can be saved with a name showing what was done to it as shown in the SJ Soft Shading and Blending-no opa transfer brush in Maddy’s Blue Bird Group above.

It takes a while to do this, but it has saved so much time now that they are available. Getting the backlog of Kyle’s and Grut’s brushes set up took a lot of time. And having the brushes in a folder when painting is also very handy, especially if I am trying to get a similar look to a painting or drawing from a previous image. And it is a great way to learn how to use the brushes with your stroke style! Wish I had been doing this all along!

I hope this is helpful to some of you who are like me and collect who knows how many brushes. Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather like we are having here in the States. Fall is such a great time of year!…..Digital Lady Syd


A FEW PHOTOSHOP AND LIGHTROOM TIPS AND TRICKS

Image of a lioness drawing

This week I thought I would present a few handy tips and tricks that you may not know or had forgotten – some are from a few years ago. These are ones I found while experimenting on my latest images. Maybe they will be helpful for you while working on yours. The image above was drawn and painted from an photo I took at the Jacksonville Zoo a while back. I love her expression. So here we go…..

  1. CHECK VALUES QUICKLY (PS): Sam Peterson from Adobe Creative Live, has this excellent way to turn your photo to black and white to see how the image values are looking. First need to set up the panel. In PS go to View -> Proof Setup -> Custom and in Customize Proof Condition Dialog, set Proof Conditions – Device to Simulate to Dot Gain 20%, Rendering Intent to Relative Colorimetric, and check Black Point Compensation. Now these settings will always remain. Simply press CTRL+Y and instantly you will see the whole image in B&W. Just press CTRL+Y again and it removes the effect. Also, the Color Picker still works when image is in B&W so you can see what color is causing a problem if you do not like the results. Really cool! I am using this all the time now for a quick view of what is happening with the tones in the image.
  2. SHADOW AND HIGHLIGHT LAYERS (PS): Another Sam Peterson trick – this guy does have some really interesting techniques! For images with really neutral lighting, he creates a New Layer and sets it to Multiply blend mode and selects a grayish-blue tone (try #8e969e). Clip this layer to object layer for keeping shadows confined to the object only. Otherwise can use on the whole image. Use any brush, soft Airbrush or hard edged, to paint in the shadows. (Can create a gobo lighting effect doing this with an interesting stamp brush – see my Photoshop Gobo Lightng Effect blog.) He does the same technique for Highlights using a Color Dodge blend mode and a darkish mid-gray color (try #42403d). These two layers work well together and give some beautiful results. By using these colors and adjusting the brush opacity and flow, a subtle result can be achieved.
  3. BRUSH SMOOTHING FOR TRACING (PS): This tip is from Paul Trani also from Adobe Creative Live. When tracing over an image and are having problems controlling the brush strokes, set the brush Smoothing up to 50 and the lines stroke much easier. It does slow the brush down a little, but it really helps to create nice smooth curves lines. I am finding this very helpful anytime I am using a very small sized thin line brush – used it to add some tree branches on a trunk recently.
  4. SELECT AND MASK REFINE EDGE BRUSH (PS): I have always struggled with getting good results in this panel. Well Sam Peterson once again gave me some insight for this tool. With the layer mask highlighted, go into the Select and Mask Panel and choose the Refine Edge brush icon, 2nd down on left side. In Tool Options Bar at top, open the drop-down next to the brush size field and set the brush Hardness to 0, Spacing to 25%, Angle to 0, Roundness to 100% and Size to Off. Also note that the Radius is set to 0, Smart Radius is not checked, and Object Aware selected. Once I did this, I found it was much easier to get good results on the edges, particularly when selecting hair or fur. He also cautions that dragging the brush too much inside selection will allow the edges to creep in. Drag on the very edges outside of object for best results. Use the ALT key and paint back any area that leaks in or use the Brush Tool (3rd icon on left) to clean up.
  5. CAPS LOCK TO FIND AND PAINT WITH BRUSH (PS): Kim Klassen of texture fame put me onto this one. When painting with a very tiny brush or very large brush where it is hard to see, just press the Caps Lock to get a small cross so you can see where the center of the brush is. It works with painting with a very tiny sized brush. I use this trick all the time when using cleaning up areas with small brushes like cleaning up halos, etc.
  6. SMUDGE BRUSH AND MIXER BRUSH LAG ISSUES (PS): These tips comes from Kyle T. Webster, the Adobe Brush Evangelist. If your Smudge or Mixer brush are acting very sluggish, you may need to turn off Sample All Layers due to several layers in image. Can also go into the Brush Settings Panel -> Brush Tip Shape section and – for Smudge Tool, uncheck Spacing and for Mixers set the Spacing to 5%. Try reducing the brush size also. It helps to close other documents open in PS and any open web browsers to speed things up too.
  7. DEHAZE SLIDER TIPS (LR): Two major Lightroom and Photoshop gurus offer these tips. Moose Peterson, of wildlife reknown, says that whenever he uses Dehaze, he always lowers the Blue Saturation in the HSL/Grayscale tab since the slider tends to crank up the blues. John Paul Caponigro, possibly my favorite PS guru, says that Neutral areas may turn magenta, and Shadow areas pick up strong blue or green casts. Can reduce Saturation after using, but what he likes to do it create a Virtual Copy. On one copy use no Dehaze and on another use it. Highlight both images in filmstrip, right click on an image, and select Edit In -> Open as Layers in PS. Put layer with no Dehaze on top and change to Color blend mode. Something to try IMO.
  8. ADJUSTING PRESENCE SLIDERS IN LANDSCAPE IMAGES (LR): This info comes from Randy Van Duinon, a very good architectural and landscape photographer, who uses an interesting LR workflow. He starts by first adjusting the Texture slider which works in the fine detail adding contrast in these areas; next the Clarity slider which adds contrast in the midtone areas (he keeps this amount around 35 and more on cloudy days); and finally Dehaze which adds contrast to the larger areas. Then he continues with the Basic settings. This has worked out well for me at times.
  9. USING PROFILES IN LIGHTROOM (LR): Daniel Gregory, a professional fine art photographer, came up with what I consider is a rather common sense tip. Since the image can change rather dramatically just by changing a profile, he believes that it should be applied first as he would be making different setting decisions depending upon which profile he uses. The Adobe profiles do not have an amount slider, but usually creative profiles that are downloaded have this slider. Consider the Amount slider the same as an Opacity slider on a layer in PS. I will add that many people do not add the profile until the end (Matt Kloskowsky for example) so this is definitely something to try.
  10. PARAMETRIC AND LINEAR CURVES (LR): This tip is from Tobi Shinobi, a bright young newcomer on the PS scene. In the Tone Curves section, first adjust the Linear Curve (2nd white round circle) and add your points. Press ALT to reset the curve and ALT+click over the curve to set a point to adjust. Right click to delete point. The go to Parametric Curve and adjust – they work independently of each other. Use this order to add some finesse to your images.

I hope there were some new ideas presented in these tips. Some really great PS and LR gurus have some great ideas! It was fun putting this together. See ya soon again…..Digital Lady Syd


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!


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


Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done?

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

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

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

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

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

What about the Pattern Stamp Tool? Not So Bad!

Trying Out Some New Things

The Rag-a-Muffins


TRYING OUT SOME NEW THINGS

Image of flowers taken at the Garlic Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

The last few weeks have been pretty busy for us Photoshop groupies what with all kinds of webinars and tutorials being released by both our favorite software companies and photographers. I thought I would just go over a few techniques..

Side Note here: With Black Friday coming up, here are my favorite filters: Viveza – still cannot be beat as an overall filter; Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website links for all plugins) AI Sharpen – use it on every photo and can’t live without it; and a tie between Luminar 4 – just has some cool things in it – not sure yet on their new AI, but I happy with this version for now; and Topaz Studio 3 – this program has so many filters that are so useful like Impression, ReMix, Color Theme, Glow and Edges (and DeNoise Clear). If I just had these filters, I would probably be totally happy. Now I will say Topaz DeNoise AI is excellent when the need arises but I do not use it on every image, and Topaz Gigapixel I use all the time as a stand-alone mainly. And yes Color Efex Pro is always great – I just do not use it much.

The above image of the inside at the Garlic Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is a good example of what can be done with the Pattern Stamp Tool. It can create some pretty impressive results and is major useful for creating textures. Used Jessica Johnson‘s new techniques (video and some freebies) at this link – she has lots of newsletter freebies so sign up at her site. I recently bought her Instapressionist brushes and am having a lot of fun experimenting with them. I am finding I can blend this tool with my regular painting to get some very unique effects. I also use the brush to fill in places in my image that needs some soft detail in the backgrounds.

Pixabay image of a violin

The above violin image from Pixabay was used to apply Frequency Separation (FS) to the rather wrinkled backdrop behind the instrument – the link will show you the image as downloaded. I wanted to try this technique out on something other than portraits since I am not really a retoucher or portrait photographer. So in October Adobe Max 2020 had an on-line virtual Photoshop Creativity Conference. Their link takes you to gobs of sessions, many on PS only. (I believe I heard these videos will be available to access for a year.) Earth Oliver, a commercial retoucher, did three classes all on Frequency Separation 2.0: Part 1 – Photoshop FS2.0 Retouching, Part 2 – Taking Images to the Next Level, and Part 3 – Problem Solving Techniques. And he also supplies you with an action to use. He speaks pretty slowly, but he makes it really easy to understand FS. He also uses the Mixer Brush in some of his steps which I found really useful. FS videos were also presented by Lisa Carney at the Photoshop Virtual Summit 2 (created by Photoshop Guy Dave Cross) which brought together 20 PS experts for roughly 40 hours of videos, but these summits are always fun to watch and full of great tips in them – the videos had to be purchased at time of viewing. Lisa Carney did a Basic FS Class for Beginners and one using FS on all types of files, including smoothing out wrinkles in clothes or backgrounds. She also has a Creative Live video called Retouching Clothing and Fabric, which is really good. Using the info from two retouchers, the above image was adjusted. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to create the interesting color of the violin (just dragged in the image with the toggle finger). Design Cuts Blooming Corner by Maria Letta Corner1 brush was used as detail behind the violin after selecting the violin. Last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer selecting the preset Basic Matte Effect. I can finally say I understand FS and will now use it a lot more.

Image of a man with NYC in the background

This image uses two free images: etty fidele in Bologna Italy (Unsplash) and New York City from Deeezy (Image 12). Chris Spooner, a British PS person, recently gave away this really cool Gold Action. In the above case it was run separately on each photo and then combined with a nebula image (from Unsplash) added that was also turned to gold using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Just sort of one of those fun things to try and every now and then and whenever something gold is needed. This really works!

Same image as above, but this time I put one of my own Corel Painter textures behind the violin and added some sand on the instrument (this was actually a snow brush from Serge Ramelli with a brown color). The colors were changed by using the old Match Color command which Ben Wilmore explained clearly in his Summit video. On Creative Live Ben has this info in his Photoshop Mastery Retouching and Collage videos – they are older but still very good. I have never used this command so I was surprised how good it turned out. As a Source image, one of the textures I had created with a beige color was selected. Then the Luminosity, Color Intensity and Fade sliders were adjusted to get the overall colors wanted. It was pretty easy and turned out nice. To get the beach feel, the PS Lighting Effects filter in the Render grouping was used with a Point light set to a yellowish color and Intensity of 19, a white Exposure of 26 and Ambience of 29 to get this soft beach feel.

Hope my US friends have a great Thanksgiving – probably a bit low key – I know mine is going to be. But have fun anyway. Hope you get in on some great sales – the plugin companies all have good deals going on. Later…..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 ADD A SIGNATURE TO YOUR PHOTOS

Image from Garlic Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
This week I made a video on how to add a signature and/or signature block to your digital images. There are lots of questions as to whether you should do this, and if so, do you add it all the time, and does it matter at all? I am not going to address this issue. Where do you put your signature? For a quick answer, some use the bottom left, bottom center or bottom left. Occasionally they are placed near the subject in the image. Again, I have not looked at this to really know what the current trend is for placement. But actually getting your signature into Photoshop is really not that hard – the video goes through all the steps listed below.

Here are the steps to follow that are in the video:

1. On a white sheet of paper sign your name in black with several different types of writing tools like a Magic Marker, Ball Point Pen, Artist Pen, etc. Also try different ways you might like your signature to appear on your images.

2. Either take a Digital Photo of this paper or Scan it in as a JPG. If using a Scanner, be sure to check the file once opened in Photoshop to make sure the resolution is at 300 (and not at 1600 or whatever it was scanned at) and that pixels (not inches) are set to under 2500 pixels. Do this by going to Image -> Image Size.

3. Look at the signatures on the page in Photoshop and choose one you like. Select the Marquee Tool and create a selection around that particular signature.

4. Copy signature selection by going to Edit -> Copy or CTRL+C.

5. Create a New Document by clicking on the House in the upper left hand corner and selecting Create New Document – will get the same dialog as if you pressed CTRL+N. Select the Clipboard and check that your resolution reads no more than 300 dpi.

6. Go to Edit -> Paste or CTRL+V to place the signature on a layer in the New Document.

7. To straighten the signature, go to View -> Rulers or CTRL + R and pull out a Horizontal Guide. Use Free Transform or CTRL + T to straighten – may not need to do this step. To remove the Guide, press CTRL + H to hide it (or can drag it up off the page) and CTRL + R to remove the Rulers.

8. Go to Image -> Image Adjustments -> Levels or CTRL + L to make the signature lines either darker or lighter – mainly move the middle tab to do this.

9. Go to Brush -> Define Brush Preset and name it – it shows up at the bottom of the Brushes Panel.

Now have a signature brush! Next create the Signature Block!

10. In the Photoshop file from which the brush was created, select the Text Tool and add in more information like SJ Photography for example. Use any font you want – Photoshop provides some great ones.

11. Add another Text Tool layer and this time add a Copyright symbol – to do this, press the ALT key and in the numeric number pad on your keyboard, press 0169 – when you release the ALT key, the symbol appears in the text. Add your name and the year.

12. Create another new brush – Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name something different. Now it can also be used on any of your images.

13. Save the PSD file so the copyright info can be updated for next year. Then just create a new brush.

14. To make into a Transparent Signature Block, turn off the background layer in the Photoshop File and do a Save -> Save as and select PNG format. Once saved, it can then be added into your Photoshop Library for quick use – the brushes can also be added!

Screenshot of PS Signature Block
The top image has a Signature Block and does not use my signature but uses fonts I liked. The Signature layer was duplicated three times to darken the font lines. The font used is one I really like and is called Crimson Foam Free at 37 pt. The font for Syd Johnson Photography is Birch Std at 7 pt, and the copyright font is DomCasualBT at 5 pt. The Screenshot shows the layers in the Photoshop file. A soft orange color was added to the signature layer by adding a Solid Fill Adjustment Layer (Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color) and clipping it to the signature layer (right click and select Create Clipping Mask or Layer -> Create Clipping Mask) – then just sampled a color from the image to find a color I liked. Some people use only black or white for their signature color, but I prefer adding something that will blend in nicely with the image.

Screenshot of signature block from video

The Screenshot above shows the PS layers for how a Signature Block was created using my actual signature from the video. The fonts used were: for Digital Lady Syd Photograph Brightside at 16 pt, and the copyright layer Abraham Lincoln font at 5 pt. Remember to check if these free fonts can be used for commercial work if you are going to sell your images or use them in products – you may need to buy a commercial license if you really like one. Most free fonts are okay to use for personal use. Also, some of the fonts do not have a copyright symbol so a different font must be chosen for the symbol – it can still be placed in the same layer that is using a different font for the rest of the text.

A little post processing info here. The top image is of an Italian Restaurant called Garlic in New Smyrna Beach, Florida – they have excellent Lasagna BTW! There were some real backlight issues with this image so those areas were selected and a texture was added and a Black layer mask was applied – now the texture only showed up where the light had been. Several Selective Color Adjustments Layers were used to get the colors just right. Viveza was used to direct the eye and sharpen just certain areas in the image. A Color Lookup Table using PS’s Fuji Eterna 250D Kodak 2395 was applied at 34% layer opacity.

It is really fun to try out different fonts in a Signature Block. I particularly like the script look, but some of the new writing-type fonts like Crimson Foam Free give a really nice new look to the block. If anyone has any questions on how to do this, give me a comment or E-mail, and I will be glad to help you out. Enjoy the rest of the summer!…..Digital Lady Syd


LOOKING AT THE SMUDGE TOOL – AGAIN

Image of an Amur Leopard at the Jacksonville Zoo
There is something about the Smudge Tool that creates a love-hate relationship for me. Sometimes I use it all the time and sometimes I wonder why would I use it with the fabulous Mixer Tools available. This week it was used on the two images to bring out the fur details. So what is going on with the selected Smudge Tool – it helps to look at the settings to know how to use it correctly. It has been very “eye opening” to me!

Basic Smudge Tool Characteristics

A lot of PS writers feel that the Smudge Tool only smears the paint around creating an awful effect or gives an unnatural flatness when used. I guess that is why I have never used it a lot – but I am finding with the right brush tip, it is very useful. My favorite Leopard from the Jacksonville Zoo had just the right amount of hair to see what I could do to get some furry edges on his body. I will go into the brushes used on him below. First, here is what I have learned about the Smudge Tool itself.

Thanks once again to the old gold standard PS book called The Photoshop Wow Book for CS3 and CS4 by Linnea Dayton and Cristen Gillespie (this is still one of the best references every written on PS) for the tips below.

  • If Finger Painting is turned on in the Options Bar – the smear will start by using the Foreground Color when first stroked
  • If Finger Painting is turned off – each stroke starts by sampling the color under the cursor
  • If the brush tip is big enough to pick up more than one color, the Smudge Tool applies streaks from each color
  • The higher the Strength setting in the Options Bar, the farther the Smudge Tool will smear each new color it encounters
  • At 100% Strength – it applies only the first color(s) it samples (and makes longer strokes)
  • At a lower Strength the first color fades out and new ones under the cursor are picked up and smeared as the cursor goes over them
  • Keep your strokes short to sample color frequently (which happens automatically if the Strength is low)

Tips from John Paul Caponigro (one of the best PS gurus ever) from his older Adobe Photoshop Masterclass book with a bit more info on the Smudge Tool:

  • Pull the brush through a line and both sides of it will be distorted
  • Place brush in center of a line and pull the brush out – will distort one side of a line more than the other
  • Wiggle brush down the line and it becomes wavy
  • Twirl brush stroke in circles and get a Twirl Filter effect
  • Long strokes create more distortion than short strokes
  • Stroking an area multiple times creates more distortion than a single stroke.

That is probably the best I can do on this info without exploring some of the great digital painters that only do Smudge Tool  painting.

Some of my observations:

  • If you do not see any change in your image after making a stroke, make sure Sample All Layers is on. Many free Smudge Tools brushes do not have this box checked including the Adobe Smudge Tool brushes provided by Kyle Webster.
  • Lots of the brushes have the Strength at less than 100% – I see that Aaron Blaise (the great Disney drawer) likes to use 79% for his Smudge brushes. So adjust this amount to see what really works with the image you are painting.
  • Currently some professionals will use the Mixer brushes to add in color when painting, but use the Smudge Brush to do the blending instead of the Mixer Blender brushes. Might want to try this when working on your images. See last section for how I did this.

Blending Technique

For the Leopard image the Smudge Brush was chosen first and then a a soft Round brush (set to 4 pixels, 25% Spacing and Scattering at 181%, set in Options Bar the Strength to 15%) was selected in the Brush Panel – changed the settings in the Brush Settings Panel.  Paint over the sharp edges of a line with very short strokes and a very soft edge will be created showing the blended colors. Painting on a New Layer with the Sample All Layers on will create nice blended edges into a background. May need to increase the Strength a little if it is not showing up well due to a higher resolution image. You will notice it can also give a nice painterly effect. By looking at the tips above, “at a lower Strength the first color fades out and new ones are picked and smeared” applies and keeping the strokes small adds this detail.

How to Make a Smudge Tool Brush

For the White Crowned Hornbill Bird image taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm below, Kyle’s Real Oil Sargent2 Smudge Tool was used to paint over the bodies and at a small size to do their eyes but larger size for the larger feather areas. At 10 pixels I was able to get a pretty nice fine line for the beaks. Definitely have to experiment with this to get the strokes needed. I tried to find this Smudge Brush in all of Kyle’s brushes for PS but could not find it (it was from an older set by Kyle). But I was able to recreate the brush and thought you might like to try this.

  1. In the Megapak, go to the Real Oils folder and highlight the Sargent Fat 2017 regular brush (see next section on how to download these brushes). Create a New Brush by clicking on the plus sign at the bottom of the Brushes (or Brush Settings) Panel for New Brush dialog – but do not check Include Tool Settings – Say OK.
  2. Now select the Smudge Tool in the Toolbar and highlight the new brush.
  3. In the Brush Panel Settings, add these settings: Brush Tip Shape: Size 50 pixels, Angle 0 degrees, and Spacing 10%; Shape Dynamics: Size Jitter Control: Pen Pressure and Angle Jitter 100%; Scattering: Check Both Axes, Scattering 219%, Count Jitter 100% and Control Pen Pressure; and check Smoothing.
  4. On the Options Bar, set the Strength to 58% and Sample All Layer checked.
  5. Now go back and press the Plus icon at the bottom of the Brushes Settings Panel and check Include Tool Settings and name it. Say OK and you now have a Smudge Tool from a Regular Brush.

This brush looks and acts very similar to Kyles Real Oil Sargent2 Smudge Tool used in the bird picture. You can follow these same steps to create a Smudge Tool using any regular brushes and Mixers. It is a lot of fun to find some new tip shapes for these.

I always Export the new brushes for ones I am using at regular intervals so that I can reuse them later if I accidentally delete one. Highlight your brushes and go to the flyout on top right of the Brush Settings Panel and select Export Selected Brushes – name the set and save.

Image of two hornbill birds at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Adding Soft Fur Edges for Animal Subjects Technique

On the Leopard image, a Smudge Tool from Aaron Blaise was used to create some very subtle fur edges. Normally I would not mention the brush, but right now he has all his brush sets on sale for a $1.00 and that includes his Foliage Brush set that contains 58 brushes and are really fun in their own right. He likes to use one of his foliage brushes converted to a Smudge Tool for his animal drawings so that is what I used. Since his brushes are designated to be used with any tool, just select the Smudge Tool and then find Sampled Brush 48 3 in the Brush Panel. In the Brush Settings Panel, these are the settings I used to get some really nice smudge hairs: Brush Tip Shape: Size 90 pixels (but for the leopard used 45 pixels), Angle 90 degrees, and Spacing 48%; Shape Dynamics: Size Jitter 37% with Control: Pen Pressure, Angle 3% and Control: Direction, and check Flip X Jitter; Scattering: Scatter – Check Both Axes and set to 89%; Count 1, and Count Jitter 72%; and Smoothing on. In the Options Bar set the Strength to 98%, Angle 90 degrees (same as in Brush Tip Shape brush section), and check Sample All Layers. (Aaron originally had the Size set to 60 px, the Strength to 45% – it did not work well for me with these settings but you can try them and see if they are better for you.)

The bird image used the above brush and a slightly different type of brush to create the fur strokes. Just need to create a brush using several tiny black dots (approximately 15 or so) in a rough circle (similar to what is used to add hair to people). Once you create this simple brush by going to Edit -> Define Brush Preset, select the Smudge Tool and then select the new brush at the bottom of the Brush Panel. Just set a pixel size of 70 and a Spacing of 10% and it creates a great Fur Brush – I used a Strength of 79% and checked Sample All Layers. Very simple but great little Smudge Tool.

This same brush can be used to create very small soft hair edges as shown on their heads and chest areas. Also, a regular soft round brush was selected and the feather color was sampled to add in some detail onto the big bird’s chest – used the Aaron Blaise brush to make it look like feathers and reduced the layer opacity to 51% so it all blended in nicely. White was added to the top hairs and the same brush was used to blend it back in. It gave a very realistic effect to the feathers. By experimenting, these brushes can paint really nice strokes.

How to Download and Save the Smudge Tool Brushes from Adobe

  • Kyle Webster has lots of brushes available in his Megapack (to load them, the Brushes Panel must be open by clicking in the Options Bar the 4th icon, which shows a folder with a brush on it (or by just pressing F5), and clicking the upper right flyout icon – select Find More Brushes. Must be signed into your Adobe account to download them. To load them, double click on the .abr file name and the folder will appear at the bottom of the brush folders. Here is a Megapack PDF link that shows all the brushes in the set – look on page 7 for the Smudge Tool brushes which are located in several of the different sections.
  • I like to keep my Smudge Tools saved as Tool Presets so I can find them quickly. I do not save my regular brushes as Tool Presets anymore, but I for my Erasers and Smudge Tools since only a few are used. To save as a Tool Preset, just open the Smudge brush from the Brushes Panel and press the Options Bar 2nd icon drop down (which is a tiny arrow) – select the plus icon on right that says Create a New Preset from this Brush. Next time you select the Smudge Tool, press the Tool Preset icon and it will be in the list of those loaded.

For more info, check out How to Use the Smudge Tool blog from a while back which also included my Tidbits blog called Which Tool to Use – the Smudge Tool or the Mixer Brush Tool? What I had discovered was “It seemed it was easier to blend colors with the Mixer Brush and then smooth edges and shape color using the Smudge Tool.”

Guess this blog got a little wordy, but there is a lot going on with these Smudge Tool brushes and it easy to use and create them. Hope everyone understands them a little more – I know I do. Not sure I will paint with just the Smudge Tool brushes since I really like the Mixers, but I am finding them a lot more useful than I thought I would. Have a great week!….. Digital Lady Syd


CREATING AN ART HISTORY ACTION IN PHOTOSHOP


Image of a painted Egyptian Mask

Yesterday I found this really cool action that can be used in Photoshop using the Art History brush on any image. I have always been a bit fascinated by this type of painting as it is really simple to do, has been in Photoshop for ages, and is very flexible in the way you can create with it. (See my How to Use the Art History Brush-It Really Is Pretty Nice! blog for more info.) This time Marko Kozokar, on of my favorite digital painting creatives, came up with yet another great action (Check out his Envato list for lots of other actions).

CREATING THE ACTION

The three images shown both used the Palette Knife action that I created by following the steps in his How to Create a Palette Knife Photoshop Action on Envato. Unfortunately Envato has changed it’s policy and you cannot buy an individual action, so you must join the site for a fee. Therefore, it is necessary to follow the instructions to make the action if you want one. This action took me quite a while to figure out, but if you have done them before, it follows the same basic steps. So here are my tips if you decide to do this:

  • First need to make sure image is in 8-bit mode, RGB Color (go to Image -> Mode to see this), and less than 4000 px on the largest size (go to Image -> Image Size to see if it needs to be resized.) It is important to know if you resized the image.
  • Note that when you start recording an action, you can always turn it off to do another step that should not be recorded, before continuing with the action. This happens a lot when making this action. Marko created a few brushes and I went ahead and made them first before continuing with the action so they would be ready to use. With these brushes, make sure you save them as a set (Palette Knife-Art History Brushes) to use again. I named the brushes Palette Knife-Art History Brush1, Palette Knife-Art History Brush2 and Palette Knife-Art History2-small for the second painting layer, and Palette Knife-Art History3 for the last painting layer. You will see these steps appear as you continue creating the action. When a new brush is introduced, I add a Stop in my action and note which brush to use at this point so I won’t forget next time I run the action.
  • If you downsized or changed the mode of the image, need to stop recording before painting and make a Snapshot in the History Panel. If you do not put your Art History brush icon by the snapshot, but leave it by the top image, it will not paint because you changed the mode or size of the image. Just remember to this before painting if you are having an issue painting.
  • When creating the action and a Background copy needs to be moved up in the layer list, be sure to use CTRL+] – dragging will not be picked up right in the action.

Once you finish the painting part of the action, adding in the other adjustment layers and filters is pretty easy. Also remember there are a few other things you can do with the brushes. The image below used a default Legacy PS Artist Brush called AH Oil Medium Wet Flow brush instead of the Art History2 brushes. Besides the size and opacity, try changing the Mode in the Options Bar when applying paint. Also you do not have to paint out the whole image, try just painting out parts of it as in getting rid of an ugly background. For some of the best tips on using the Art History Brush, check Julieanne Kost (the Adobe Photoshop Evangelical) and her Art History Brush in Photoshop video – it is older, but since the tool has not changed in forever, it is still accurate.


Image of a digital painting of a man playing the guitar

This is a really great action once you get it running properly. If you have problems, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment. As I said, it did take me a while to get it working smoothly so maybe I can help.

GETTING THAT FINAL TEXTURED LOOK

There is a “Secret Sauce” that he added to his images to give them a really nice painterly texture effect that is not in the action. If you look at the leopard image at the bottom of his link, you will see a really nice finished painterly effect. How do you get this effect? It is one of my favorite techniques that I have actually written about several times, but it is so useful, I will go through it again. (For a video on this, check out my How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color blog.

  1. Load any texture you like that has some really great painted look that will match the recently painted image. – I like those from French Kisses Artiste Collection (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) which show strong stroke lines but there are many texture creators that do this. Even making you won is definitely an option.
  2. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top – clip by clicking on the first icon at the bottom of the Adjustment Layer. Set the Saturation Slider to -100 to desaturate the texture so the color in the texture does not show up on the image.
  3. The texture blend mode was then set to Hard Light blend mode and a layer opacity around 30% as a starting point. I find these settings work well with this technique but try different blend modes to see which looks best on your image.
  4. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to brighten the image as the texture tends to darken the midtones.

 Image of an Amur Leopard at the Jacksonville Zoo
This Leopard at the Jacksonville Zoo is one where I had to downsize and use a different snapshot to paint the image. This image shows the texture better as it was a little different type – French Kiss’s Atlelier Canvas texture using the Hard Mix blend mode and 27% layer opacity. (The Guitar image used her Artiste Dove Wings texture at Vivid Light blend mode at 35% layer opacity and the Egyptian Mask used the Tableaux Sea Nymph 2 texture at Hard Light blend mode at 22% layer opacity.) Not sure I would use this image but used it to create the action. Still I learned a lot from just experimenting with it.

Hope everyone is still learning some new things (and old in my blog’s case). It was a lot of fun to create this action. ….. Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE A SPATTER BRUSH FOR A BACKGROUND EFFECT


Image of a Lily

The image above is an example of what I like to do with a spatter (or splatter) brush in Photoshop. It can really pull an image together when it is lacking some interest. Thought I would show you a couple ways to get this nice effect and where to find the brushes to do it. I got this idea from watching an “oldie-but-goodie” video by Mark J. Johnson, one of my favorite Photoshop people from years ago – I have not been able to find any of his more recent material. The video is called Photoshop Workbench 418: Paint Splatter Border Effect from 2014. He is using a brush from Lisa Carney, another one of my favorites – he does not give you the brush, which has more of a splatter look to it, but you can see what it looks like and the settings he used. These are the settings I used on some of my brushes from various resources.. 
Image of a Sand Cat at the Smithsonian Washington DC Zoo

So lets start with this tiny adorable Sand (Desert) Cat image taken at the Smithsonian Washington DC Zoo. It was not a great shot as it was he was inside a building with poor light and was moving a lot, but his face was well focused. By adding some interest to the background, the overall moving effect could be blended in with a spatter brush. So after doing some initial clean up, it was time to add some spatter marks.

Finding the Brushes

This image used the Splashy brush in Kyle Webster’s Spatter Brush set. To find the spatter brushes, open the Brush Panel (I usually just press F5 and it opens up along with the Brush Settings Panel) – just click on the little “hamburger” icon in the top right corner of the panel. In the pop-out menu, there is a choice called “Get More Brushes” – that is where Kyle has all his brushes for you to download. Once the website is opened, you will see a New Release Summer 2020 Brushes at the top – the Lily image uses the Spladoosh Variant brush from this set. Scroll down and find a group called Spatter brushes – download them – to add them to PS, can just double click on the spatter.abr file – they will load in as a group at the bottom of your brush panel. (Even if PS is closed, it will open up PS and add them in.) Scroll down the group list until you see the Splashy brush.

Adding a Spatter Layer

For the cat image, a New Layer was added and the Splashy was selected. Just dabbed around until an effect was created. In this case, no texture was added first. No changes were made to the Splashy brush but it should be noted that it is set to “Multiply” blend mode in the Options bar which appears to give the brush a much softer lighter stroke effect in this case. If it is switched to Normal, marks have more emphasis on the dark and light aspects of the brush tip itself. Also for this image the actual spatter brush layer was set to Linear Burn at 72% Layer Fill. A Color Lookup Table using a Cerulean Blue preset from PhotoFocus was used to get the overall image color effect.

The Tilde (~) Keyboard Shortcut

New with the November 2019 update of PS 2020, the tilde key (~) key acts as an eraser – so when you paint with a brush, pressing the Tilde key will erase using the exact same brush with the same settings, not the brush selected in the Eraser Tool. This can be quite useful for blending when the brush is set to a lower flow or opacity – it will remove just a reduced amount of the stroke. You can use this in a layer mask to create soft blended edges.

Also, press the Tilde key (~) and the right arrow (->) key to rotate the brush tip clockwise. Use the left arrow key (<-) to rotate counterclockwise. Add the SHIFT key and it will change the Angle in 15 degree amounts. I really love this key – it has made it a lot easier to paint in PS.
Image of a group of Flamingos called Flamboyance

Using Spatter Brushes in a Layer Mask on a Texture Layer

In the Flamingo image, Spatter Brush 139 in a free set called Abstract Paint Brushes by Darrian Lynx was used – the settings in the Brush Panel were: Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 31%, Control Pen Pressure, and Angle Jitter 100%; Transfer Opacity Jitter 29%, Control Pen Pressure and Minimum 48%; and increase size to 1158 pixels. On one of my painted textures a layer mask was added and the above brush was used to paint out the center with black for a border effect. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Luminar 4 (for website link, see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog)was opened and several “looks” were applied to soften up the edges of the painted spatter border to give a sort of dreamy feel to the image.

The top image of the Lily used a brush from Kyle’s new Summer 2020 Brushes set called Sladoosh Variant. This brush is set to Normal blend mode at 30% opacity for this image and no changes were made to the brush settings. The Tilde keyboard shortcut was used a lot to get the effect around the blossoms that I wanted.

Brush marks can be combined on different layers and set to different opacities to make new spatter brushes. Also several different layers set to different layer opacities or blend modes using different brushes can be stacked above the image to create some great effects. And don’t forget to try different textures with different blend modes to get some interesting results. It is really a lot of fun to do this. Have a great week and start looking at those spatter brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd


GOT SOME FREE TIME! TRY DRAWING!

Drawing of an Elephant
This week I decided I to try another drawing video and see what results I could get this time. One of my favorite wildlife artists (and Disney cartoonist extraordinaire!) Aaron Blaise had a sale on an older set of videos (he was using Photoshop CS6) called Wildlife Painting Bundle for Photoshop. The above Elephant was drawn and painted following the steps in his 1-1/2 hour long Elephant Painting Tutorial video. He takes you step-by-step on how to create the image in great detail. It took me much longer than 1-1/2 hours to do this – had to walk away a few times and start certain sections over to get it correct. The main challenge was to get used to the Erodible Brush he showed you how to create. Once you have mastered the brush, it was amazing what it could do! One hint here, I had to actually add some Softness to the brush (41%) to keep my lines from getting too sharp when making wider strokes – and the brush size was set to 7 or 8 pixels to get sharp sketchy lines. The only downside was the Elephant video’s resolution was lower than the other three and this made it a little harder to see some of his settings.

Aaron’s Elephant image was darker and used warmer tones rather like a Safari. My image used Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle to get more gray tones. The file became very large – almost a gigabyte and that seemed a bit excessive for a drawing. Therefore two different files were saved – a drawing file after finishing up the video, and a duplicate stamped layer from the drawing file to add my other changes. Aaron also teaches you how to create an interesting textured background and how to add special effects to it to enhance the overall drawing when finished. This bundle contained videos for a Leopard (which I am doing right now), a Lion and a Panther.

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Drawn Image of a wolf
My wolf drawing above was created a few years ago following Aaron’s YouTube video called How to Paint Fur – Photoshop – Wolf Portrait. It contains very similar steps, but since the wolf has hair instead of skin, it used different brushes. For more details on how this was done, check out my Learning to Draw a Wolf! blog. Aaron’s video for the wolf is also great for learning to draw. He has lots of other YouTube videos, several where he is using natural media as opposed to digital, but all of them are very informative. He is an excellent teacher.

There are several other digital artists that are sharing their Photoshop techniques. I am a big fan of David Belliveau of Paintable for learning to paint people. (See my Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter blog.) A couple times a year he offers free week long lessons that are terrific, and he has some really great PS brushes for free download. And EDX (University of Newcastle in Australia) offers a free Drawing Course called Drawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101 – this is a course I keep meaning to start taking and have not had time to do it. This may be a great time to try! And just for some crazy fun, try doodling! (See my blog How to Enjoy the Doodle!)

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Below is a little drawing and painting done several years ago. Just another example of something that can be drawn easily. It followed my blog called Some Flower Power that describes the basic steps used.

Image of some drawn flowers

Some Photoshop News

Also thought I would just add a couple notes for everyone. Photoshop just posted an upgrade (fixes tablet issues which I was having big-time! Thank you Adobe!), Skylum Luminar 4 update that now allows adding components into your sky and has greatly improved the skin panels (Thank you Skylum!), and Topaz AI Sharpen which now allows selective sharpening using a mask (Thank you Topaz Labs!). See sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for Skylum and Topaz website links. Should be some fun stuff to investigate this coming week. Hope everyone is at home and feeling well! Have a great time with drawing in Photoshop. There are so many things to learn by drawing that can help your photography skills too!…..Digital Lady Syd


WHAT IS A “CLEAN UP” LAYER IN PHOTOSHOP?

Image of a Bulldozer in the Bahamas
Thought I would do a quick post on this since it seems to be a bit confusing as to what a Clean Up Layer is for and why have one. If you do not use Photoshop that much, it is probably something you do not think about – but when I go into Photoshop to finish up my post-processing work, it is very important.

Often it is necessary to do a “clean up” layer before applying filters or adjustment layers as it can save a lot of time at the end when you are trying to finalize an image. What I mean by that is that if a spot shows up at the end, it is often necessary to do that final clean up and, if you are like me, it just adds to the size of your image. That does not mean you can’t clean up an image later in your workflow (I have done it a lot! but not because I wanted to!) – it can also create problems if you are trying to blend out or clone areas, then decide to change a blend mode from an earlier layer in the stack – there now is this ugly layer that does not match up and you have to do the clean up layer again. It can get a bit frustrating.

Usually I create several Clean Up layers and I try to label them a little bit to remind me what I did on that layer. If you are using different tools, like the Paint Brush and the Clone Stamp for example, it is really handy to put each tool’s corrections on their own layers. This is useful since you may not like an Clean Up layer effect produced as you post processed the image and you can just delete that layer. Also, if the results create too strong an effect, like too much additional color from a paintbrush, just reduce that layer’s opacity. Another handy thing to remember is that a layer mask can be added to the Clean Up layer – can paint over areas using a low opacity brush to reduce the effect in just certain areas – and the Properties Panel can always be used to adjust the Density of the layer mask changes.

WHEN DO YOU ADD A CLEAN UP LAYER?

Often one is needed immediately after bringing the image into Photoshop since neither Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw have layer capabilities which makes clean up difficult. By starting with a blank New Layer on top of the background layer, it is easy to use the Spot Removal Tool for any little corrections to your image. Also the Clone Stamp Tool can be used to “clean up” areas that need a few tweaks. And of course regular brushes can be used to clean up a line or edge.

Another time to use a Clean Up layer is if you need to blend using a Mixer Brush or Paint Brush – it can be handy to have this on a separate layer to blend in the strokes perfectly. This is a great time to try out different brush strokes to see if they work better than the brush you are using. Try never to paint directly on the image as it is a destructive process doing that – the separate layers above can be deleted easily if the result is just not right.

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For the image above, the ability to go back and forth between using a regular Paint Brush and the Stamp Tool Brush to “clean up” an image was used. This may sound pretty obvious, but I am not sure many people try this.

Image of Original Image and of Clean Up Paint Layer
As you can see on the left image there was a great big palm frond hanging down in front of this Bahamian Bulldozer. It was parked on the trail up to Nippers Beach Bar and Grill on the Great Guana Cay (if you don’t go to Nippers, you have not been to the Outerbanks!) The palm frond is basically why this image was not post processed before. By sampling the colors near each frond area, the messy area was cleaned up. To restore the texture of certain areas that just could not be painted, the Stamp Brush Tool was set to a small size, sometimes as small as 3 pixels, and Hardness set to 75% and Spacing to 25% in Brush Tip Shape section in Brush Panel. Then the texture could be added to areas where the paint brush would not work. (This means the palm fronds areas hanging down were replaced with the green bush “texture” in the background by using the Clone Stamp Tool.) The Regular Paint Brush used was my Chalk Brush 60 that contains a setting of 19% Angle Jitter in the Shape Dynamics section. Set to a small size it gives you a lot of stroke control but also some variation in the stroke to indicate a little variation. See right side for what the Chalk Brush Clean Up layer looked like – shows the frond area painted over by sampling the color and painting with the brush.

This image also had several other “Clean Up” layers – one for the Patch Tool used after cropping to fill the top expanded area, and Spot Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Brush to clean up the texture applied to this image. The texture is from French Kiss Artiste Collection – Cote d’Azure texture. It was chosen since it had a sort of sandy bottom and blue sky at the top. A New Layer (same as a Clean Up layer) using the Clone Stamp was applied over the texture to just smooth the edges up to the object and still match the texture. My last “clean up” layer was used on the tire lettering. Totally indispensable!

When adding a layer mask do not forget to highlight the mask and press the \ key to see what you are painting out of the image – it really helps to fine-tune the layer mask this way.

I hope this cleared up a little bit of the confusion about what a “Clean Up” layer is used for, but you can use it in any way. What I discussed is how I use them and almost every image I post-process in Photoshop uses at least one. Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd


CREATING COMPOSITE IMAGES USING THE JULIEANNE KOST WORKFLOW

An image of a composite containing the ocean and a small island
I would imagine everyone who has Photoshop has run across the name Julieanne Kost – she is an Adobe Evangelist and attends most major events that showcase Photoshop. She really loves to use texture and recently created a short video on her blog called Happy Birthday Photoshop! to let you see how she puts here fine art composites together. I found this short video really interesting and thought I would give her style a try and share it with you. The above image was my first attempt.

I have always felt that composites are really fun to do, but it does require a bit of creativity to pull together several different elements into a meaningful result. The above image I named “Hope on the Horizon” as I wanted to depict a rather lonely feeling but with the moving clouds and birds, there is always activity and hope.

WORKFLOW:

Here is how I perceived her workflow – my own steps for the image above is in italics.

    1. First select an image that would work as a nice background for the image. This usually means there is a really nice ocean scene, or flat foreground grassy area and it may or may not have a horizon line. Just need something of interest to build your composite on.
      In the above, an image taken while sailing showing the clouds out over the ocean was used as a basis for the image.
    2. She will add a texture on top of the background layer sometimes. It is often necessary to desaturate the texture so it does not change the tone in the image so SHIFT+CTRL+U is used to desaturate it.
      On the image above, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Candlelight preset was added instead to reduce the color but not change the texture of the water at this time.
    3. Add in some elements – these can be brought in from anywhere. It can be helpful to select the items out of the image before copying them into your composite, but you do not have to – just add a layer mask to clean up what is being added.
      In the image above two images from PixelSquid (one of my favorite element places, but it is a membership site) using a sand and dunes element and a palm tree element. The dune contained the nice grass and weeds. The wood structure behind the tree was taken from another one of my images and just added in – used a layer mask to remove its background. Selective Color Adjustment Layers were used to adjust the color of the elements. Also added a New Layer and painted some small white and black flowers (scatter brush dots) in the weeds. And you may want to paint over the edges with a low opacity Regular brush or Smudge or Mixer brush to blend in elements.
    4. Used a fog brush to soften the horizon on a New Layer if you do not want it to be too noticable. Julieanne appears to soften the horizon a lot in her image.
      The brush used above was a cloud brush called Adonish CLOD3 from a free set by DanLuVisiArt on DeviantArt and does a great job with this – need to set the size of course.
    5. Next texture(s) need to be added – any number and try out different blend modes and and adjust layer opacity for each. Some may need to be desaturated and some may not – that is what makes it fun.
      Above two textures were applied: one from Melissa Gallo’s canvas collection called Dark Naples Yellow Canvas set to Overlay blend mode at 74% layer opacity and contains the strong yellow and green components, and one from the Adobe Texture Pro Panel called Villa Adriana – it was desaturated and set to Hard Light at 45% layer opacity.
    6. More elements can be added on top too.
      See the birds flying – they are also from PixelSquid but bird elements can be found all over the internet.
    7. Now the final steps need to be done. Usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer need to be added to retain the  contrast lost by adding all the textures. Also any other masking or tweaking needs to be done to get your image just right.
      In the image above, Viveza was opened on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and set to a Smart Object so it could be readjusted. The Camera Raw filter could have been used to do the same. The sliders were set to brighten up the whole image a little and add a little structure which was lost by adding all the texture. The last step involved adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top and reducing the saturation (-25) just a little as it was supposed to be a little darker than the happy yellow it currently was.

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    Image of a Sumatran Tiger
    This Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo is really not as mean as he looks (although I am not sure of this) – I wanted him to look like he was walking straight at you. Since there was a fence behind him, an element was created using some horizontal lines with a brush and adding some texture to the layer. So, yes, the original image and background of the tiger are the same, but many things were done that are similar to Julieanne’s type of image. A brush was created to paint in a warm orange texture around the lion but under the horizontal line layer. For instructions on how to do this, check out Envato’s tutorial called How to Create Photoshop Brushes from an Old Newspaper by Ivan Gromov. It was a lot of fun to do and the created brushes make nice texture layers. Two other texture layers were applied – Melissa Gallo’s Green Lake set to Overlay blend mode at 60% layer opacity and Trees in May set to 75% layer opacity. A High Pass layer was used to sharpen just his face (used a black layer mask and painted in just the face area). On top one of my own white textures was set at 75% Layer Opacity to give him a less sharp and bright overall appearance. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add back some contrast and that was about it.

    Julieanne has a class on compositing at Lynda.com for a fee. Her technique is pretty consistent if you watch her short video and she does create some really nice textured images. I hope you will give it a try since it is pretty fun to do and it is not a real hard workflow to master. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd

    DIGITAL LADY SYD RELATED BLOGS:
    How to Make a Basic Composite Image
    ReBlog – Get Inspired using Your Favorite Textures
    A Few Compositing Tips and Tricks! – Recycled
    A Flamingo’s Private Park


GETTING THE JOEL SARTORE LOOK ON YOUR ZOO IMAGES

Bonobo Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo
This week I spent a lot of time working on my Jacksonville Zoo images. It is really hard to get that perfect shot when you are without a tripod and the animals and you are moving a lot, not to mention the weather aspects that can affect the final picture. Therefore it is sort of a hit or miss prospect and it takes a little manipulation to get the perfect image.

The above is an image using the effect that Joel Sartore (a National Geographic photographer) uses and is his images are currently being displayed throughout the Jacksonville Zoo. He mission is to photograph every live animal on the earth using this beautiful technique. He uses lighting and sharpness very effectively. I thought I would try to get a similar effect with some of my images and this Bonobo Monkey is one of my results. (This technique is also displayed in my Sneaking a Quick Snack image on my Tidbits Blog.)

So how do you create this effect? First the basic color work was done in Lightroom and the image was cropped once in Photoshop. A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer using the color black was added under a duplicate layer of the Background Layer. Joel uses white also as a background color, but I really like the black background effect.

Getting a Good Selection

A good selection is crucial – you do not want any discoloration from the original background where the animal was located. The Quick Selection Tool was used to select the monkey from his background. As you can see, the above had a lot of head hair and was easily discolored since his hairs were so thin. The Select and Mask panel was opened and the Refine Brush Edge Tool (2nd icon down on the left) was selected at the default 30-pixel size. An 8-pixel Edge Detection Radius was entered. With the Refine Brush Tool, the monkey was painted over his edges. Sometimes you do not get the best results with this tool, but it is a good start. At this point I usually look at the Black & White View and use the Brush Tool (3rd icon down) to clean up anything that looks bad. The Shift Edge was set to +37% to show up the hair on his head more. Exited using New Layer with Layer Mask (no decontamination used as it did not look good but always check to see). It totally depends on what is being selected as to whether all these sliders used on this image. The Eagle below used only the Refine Edge Brush. I personally find this panel to be very finicky as to how well it works. I would list a reference but so far I have not found any that are that great. I always do paint around the edges with the Refine Brush Edge Tool no matter what is being selected. Some experts say paint from the inside out over the edge – this works sometimes for me. The good news is that the layer mask can be painted in directly once out of the panel to further tweak the image. This is where a some special brushes can really help. This also may be a case to use Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Mask AI if you own the filter – it does give a better selection sometimes.

Finding a Good Fur or Feather Brush

Back in Photoshop, a good Fur Brush is necessary to use inside the layer mask since so many hairs might be missed in the Quick Selection Panel. They need to be added in at this point. There are several places where you can get fur brushes. My best set is free to use from Coyotemange called Wildlife Texture Brushes on DeviantArt – great for painting in missing areas on all kinds of animal fur. Aaron Blaise also has some great animal brushes for sale. The one used a lot on the monkey image (and is one of my favorite brushes) was created from watching a short free brush video (No. 21) by Karen Alsop included in her class called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World on Creative Live. It has been very useful for all kinds of rough edges and I use it as a Clone Stamp Tool brush and Eraser also. By alternating between black and white on the edges, the hairs can be added back in with a very realistic look. Another very handy brush was created by watching Aaron Nace’s How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop video. You can download the brush from there – I use this brush a lot in the layer masks for individual fur hairs – just need to adjust the stroke angle in the Options Bar or the Brush Panel.

Color and Lighting

Next the color of the subject needs to be considered. The monkey used a Levels Adjustment Layer. The Red in the drop-down menu was opened and the white tab moved left (which added Red into the Highlights) and the Midtone (center) tab was adjusted for contrast. In the Blue both the white tab was moved left a little and on the Output Levels, the first field was set to 14 to add blue into the shadows a little bit. To understand how this works, check out Aaron Nace’s How to Use Levels & Curves in Photoshop – Day 6 video – it is an excellent explanation! A Curves Adjustment Layer was used for contrast.

Now I could see the hair did not look right so another Curves Adjustment Layer was selected and the layer mask was filled with black (CTRL+I in the mask). By painting over the hairs with a white brush, the hairs could be exposed. Then the Curve was adjusted by using the little hand tool in the top of the Curves Panel and getting just the right tone on the hair. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and the layer mask from the Curves Adjustment Layer was copied over so the color of the hair could also be adjusted. The eyes were brightened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer (see my The Eyes Have It – How to Make Them Pop in an Image blog). The last step was to use a Spotlight Effect on the subject to enhance the light already on the monkey. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.)

I used Viveza 2 to do final image adjustments but Photoshop’s Camera Raw Filter works just as well – mainly was adding a little focused structure to parts of his face for focus. Also a text layer was added.

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Image of one of the Eagles at the Jacksonville Zoo
This Bald Eagle is located at the Jacksonville Zoo with his blind buddy eagle. I felt bad for him as he was extremely alert and really wanted to take off but he seemed content to watch all the visitors as we passed by and said Hi. His final image is not as dramatic as the monkey image since the lighting was essentially non-existent in this image. Since he was not moving much, it was pretty easy to get a really sharp image. It was also easy to select the Eagle just using the Refine Edge Brush in the Select & Mask Panel as he did not have all the little feathers or hairs that many birds and animals have sticking out. Basically did a little spotlight lighting on his face and neck areas. Used Luminar Flex (could have used Luminar 4) to add the sharpness to the image (used Accent AI Filter 2, Structure, Details Enhancer, Golden Hour to adjust color in the beak, and Microstructure filters). Popped his eye with an Exposure Adjustment Layer. That was it. This was a very easy image to use for this type of effect.

It really is not that hard to get the look – just have to be careful of the mask being used. An edge discoloration could really overall ruin the result. Love this look that Joel did with his wonderful pictures. Hope you give a try. Have a great one and will be back soon!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Add a Darker Background Image for a Different Effect


REBLOG – GET INSPIRED USING YOUR FAVORITE TEXTURES

Comic Image of me watching TV

This week I am doing a reblog from a few years ago – thought you would enjoy it since it is on one of my favorite subjects and lots of fun to use with images. In the meantime I am taking a week off from blogging to get some new pic and ideas (and taking a little down time – HaHa)! Have a great week!

Digital painted image of a farm sceneLots of times I have found or created a texture I really like that I would like to use in an image but not sure where. So this is a blog on how to create images for that texture, and possibly get your creative mind going. Not particularly a new concept, but a little different approach for using texture. It also gives you a chance to brush up on your compositing skills and try out some nature brushes. The image above is an example of my using a texture that I created in Corel Painter and used in this image originally.

There are not a lot of steps to this process. Just open the texture above a white Background layer in case the texture needs to be set to a different blend mode or opacity amount. Next add elements and/or text, and finally do the finishing steps as if post-processing an image.

That is exactly what was done above – here is the workflow for this image to demonstrate the steps. The texture was added and left as it is. Next Photoshop’s tree filter was used to create this pretty foreground tree. If you have not experimented with this filter, give it a try. (For more on this see my How to Create a Photoshop Artistic Tree.) It is so much fun! These are my tree settings – most of the settings were changed to get the tree effect shown above. (Base Tree Type: 19: Fraxinus Griffithi which is an Evergreen Ash, Light Direction 85, Leaves Amount 22, Leaves Size 130, Branches Height 94, Branches Thickness 77, Uncheck Default Leaves and select 8: Leaves 8, Uncheck Randomize Shapes Arrangement 21.3.) A layer mask can always be added if you do not quite like the way the branches look – in this case some of the leaves were too dark so a 30% brush was painted over them in the mask to lighten them up. The Liquify Tool can also be used to get the branches sitting just right. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the tree to make it more golden in color to match the texture. The texture looked like a golden wheat field to me so a little red barn from PixelSquid was added – a mask was added so the bottom of the barn could be removed and hide it from view. The layer was set to 55% layer opacity so it is looks a little less sharp and more distance. I love the brushes by DeviantArt’s ninelvlsup and her Dandelion Whisps brush was used in the foreground. Some of the edges were removed with a layer mask. The birds are from a Flypaper Bird Set that I use all the time. To soften the effect of the birds, a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the birds and a yellow and red pattern was used. The bird layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity. The last element is the single bird from the same brush set called Big Crow Fly Birds brush – it was duplicated and the top layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 65% layer opacity to emphasize the bird a little more. The elements are now in place. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle was opened. There a different color palette was applied – one that was less bright and yellow and created a cooler color tone – the preset was created from another image. (See my Flagler Beach Pier image for color palette used.) This layer was set to Color blend mode. The final steps are what I generally do when finishing up a regular photo image. Not all my steps were used here but a lot of them. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. On another stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to shift the focus back over to the bird from the barn. On a New Layer a little spatter brush was used to give the grass a little life – I wanted it to look like little bugs flying around. A soft orange Light Leak was added to the top left for a bit of color in the sky. A Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was added to pull the whole image together. The last step was to add a layer style to the edge for a soft brown border – just an Inner Shadow set to Normal blend mode, brown color, Distance 0, Choke 53, and Size 29; and Inner Glow set to Saturation blend mode, Opacity 100%, white color, Softer Technique, Edge, Choke 0, and Size 250 pixels. Know this got a little long, but it is a pretty good example of how to pull a composite effect together once the texture is chosen.

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Below are two examples of using basically the same elements in the same place but used with different textures that give a totally different look. Digital Art image of fur trees and a deerThis image used a really colorful background texture that I created using a whole bunch of the brushes in Grut’s Inky Leaks Splatter Brushes, which are fabulous brushes. Here is a link to how this texture was used before. It gives a subtle effect especially in the sky in the above. Here is a quick run-through of the steps using a very similar workflow. The tree was created using the PS Tree filter again (the Pine Tree 2 was used) and duplicating and flipping it to make a second one. The deer element is from Tara Lesher (could not get weblink to work). Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes were used. The flower under the large tree is actually from a recent Checking Out the Buds Tidbits Blog. I try to save out anything that could be used again for other images. The flying ducks are also from the Flypaper Bird set above. A light leak was added on right side. A Van Gogh preset was applied in Topaz Impression 2 – a layer mask was used to paint back the deer, birds and tree trunks. Three more textures were used get even more of a painterly look: one of mine which had yellow and a slight bluish vignette around it and set to Darken blend mode at 57% layer opacity (used Topaz Texture Effects in PS to create it), 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog). The Grey Collection 3 was set to Overlay blend mode, and her Ancient 1 set texture 2 was set to Linear Light at 28% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust focus. Last step added a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Candlelight preset – it was set to Linear Burn at 10% layer opacity. Pretty much the same as above but very different result.

In the image below I wanted to show how a different texture gives a very different result. It contains the same basic elements except that the grass was created using Aaron Blaise‘s Foliage brush set and Directional Fur and Hair brush set. I was really surprised what nice flowers and grass can be created with these brushes. The texture is another one I painted in Corel Painter. The font is called Winter Holidays. I am not sure I have ever used this texture before but I like it. The reason this image looks so different is that the PS Lighting Effects filter was used to set the lighting on the right side. Otherwise the image was post-processed as the first one.

Digital image of fur trees and a deerThis is something to try when you do not feel so inspired. There always seems to be some texture that will get you interested in creating. Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blog:
How to Make a Basic Composite Image
Creating Winter Wonderland Effect!
How to Create an Image From Nothing!


HOW PHOTOSHOP’S COLOR DYNAMICS BRUSH SETTINGS WORK

Image of abstract buildings painted in Corel Painter
I found some good info in my old notes on the settings for Color Dynamics in the Brush Settings Panel. With so many sliders it is easy to be confused on how to use these settings when you want to just add another color to your brush for painting. In the image above, which was created in Corel Painter, a scatter brush was used on a separate layer in Photoshop using Kyle’s scatter brush below using blue colors. The Color Dynamics section is not available for all PS brushes, but is for the Regular Brushes, Pattern Stamp Brushes and Art History Brushes.

Back in 2014, Melissa Gallo, a Corel Master and great painter, created Painting with Photoshop Workshop with 26 videos. It contained all kinds of brushes, patterns, actions, etc., that covered everything needed to learn to paint in PS. It is still available on her site and worth getting if you are really interested in learning to paint with PS. One of the her videos has a very uncomplicated way of looking at the Color Dynamic sliders. The other major reference for this is from David Belliveau, who mainly draws portraits in Photoshop (he offers a free class a couple times a year which are excellent so look for this) and has some wonderful free PS brushes (scroll down the page to find them). He covered this topic in Brushmakers Blueprint, a video from 2016 which appears to be only available on his member site.

Below is a screen shot of the Color Dynamics Section as shown in PS. Be sure to click on the actual words “Color Dynamics” to open up the settings. If just the left side check mark is clicked, it does not open up.

Image of the Color Dynamics section in PS Brush Settings Panel
Kyle’s Spatter Br-Pressure Control brush is in his Scatter Brushes group, one of the free sets that can be downloaded if you use PS. (To find these brushes, go to upper pop-out menu in the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes – the Scatter brushes can be downloaded from this page.) Note that this is an Airbrush as shown by the icon checked in the Options Bar – the longer you press on the brush, the more dense it gets. The original brush does not have Color Dynamics checked so all the brush strokes will appear in just one color. To get the colorful effect shown in my top image, the screenshot settings were used.  After adding the settings, the brush was resaved (by clicking the “plus sign in a box” icon at the bottom of both the Brush Panel and Brush Setting Panel). In the New Brush dialog, rename the brush (I added my initials to it so I knew it has the new settings) and check “Capture Brush Size in Preset” and “Include Tool Settings.” Below are listed all the color settings and what they do. The word “Jitter” means change in the digital world according to Melissa.

Foreground/Background Jitter: When kept at 0, the colors will mix just fine but will have mostly Foreground color variations. If you move the slider right, more of the Background colors are picked up until the stroke shows more of the Background color variations. (This is when the Hue is set to 0 – move this slider and get a lot more color variations.) This setting is not so important if the Control field is set (see next paragraph). I tend to adjust this slider and not change the Control field when adding color to most of my brushes.

Control: In the above brush settings, Control is set to off as I liked the effect I was getting as is. By switching in the drop-down to Fade with Foreground/Background Jitter set to 0, it takes 25 steps (if that is the number chosen in this field) to go from the foreground color to the background color. If set to Pen Pressure, it lets you paint using foreground to background colors depending on how hard you press (when using a tablet & pen). Many people just use this and not change much else in the panel.

Apply Per Tip: Located at the top of the Brush Setting Panel, when turned on, the colors are all mixed according to the panel slider settings. With the Pen Pressure set in the Control field, press hard to get the foreground color and light to get background colors. If you turn this off, each time you make a stroke, the same color will appear. So all the scatter color might be pink with one stroke and red with another. Different way of laying down the color in the stroke. I find this a little hard to control.

Hue Jitter: This decides how many colors you get between the foreground and background colors. Want more, move slider right; want fewer, move slider left. Note that as you increase the slider, more colors will be added into the stroke with Apply Per Tip on. Set to 100%, all colors will be shown. The Hue Jitter above is set to 25% which means 25% will go from the foreground color to variations of the foreground color, and 25% will go from the background color to variations of the background color. Increase that amount to get more color variations.

Melissa says the next three settings work in tandem, meaning they work together.

Saturation Jitter: How much of a change do you want between Saturation and no saturation? Set to 50% means that 50% of 100% of the colors are saturated and will show some gray randomly placed. When Saturation is set to to 96%, 4% of the colors are saturated and 96% of the colors will be randomly grayed out. When Saturation is set to 0%, no colors are grayed out and are all equally saturated. The scatter brush is set to 40% so 40% of 100% means that 60% have some gray showing up. This seems a little complicated to me. Basically this means when set to 0%, PS is using the original saturation of the foreground and background colors for all color variations created, and when set to 100%, PS is adding in a lot of desaturation to the color variations.

Brightness Jitter: Set to 100% means the colors are very dark – the jitter goes from high to low randomly. The brush above shows a 54% change in brightness – pretty middle of the road between overly dark (100%) and overly bright (0%).

Purity: How pure the color is. I wondered what this meant and David says the slider is acting like Hue and Saturation. When set to -100%, it becomes a black and white stroke and when set to +100%, it is totally saturated. The brush above was set to -12 which causes it to be slightly darker overall. To get a black and white brush, set everything to 0 but Foreground/Background Jitter should have some setting to be able to see the variations, and set Purity to -100.

Here are some ways to set up these sliders:

  • With some Hue added, set Brightness Jitter to 80% and Purity to 55% to get very bright strokes.
  • Decrease Brightness Jitter to 15% and get a much lighter look.
  • Adjust Purity to -45% to get more of a pastel look.
  • For a nice pastel look set Brightness Jitter to 23% and Purity to -47%. To put some color in gray and others in pastel, set the Saturation to 100% (changes how many colors are completely grayed out and how many are in full color).

I figure you will not remember all these settings (I know I won’t), but maybe you can use this blog when you need a reference on the settings (that’s why I wrote it). Bottom line is to experiment with your brush and the different settings to get that perfect effect. Hopefully it will help you get the brush results you need. Hope everyone is having a great winter – so far not too bad!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter


JUST A LITTLE CARTOON

Cartoon or Comic Image of a Sleeping Lion at the Jacksonville Zoo
It took some time to pull this little blog together. Sometimes it just takes time working with an image to get the effect wanted. I had found several videos on how to create a comic or cartoon effect over the past few years so I though I would share them. I am not sure I would like the effect on all my images, but they are fun to create. And you can tell there are many different types of cartoon effects that can be achieved. The image above is one I just did with mainly painting. The same basic image was used and up to a point for all four images. The one above used Kyle’s Spatter Blot Tilt brush (in regular PS specialty default brush) with Color Dynamics turned on to get the different colors on the bark of the tree and the ground around the lion. (Used orange and tan as the colors, created a separate layer, painted in the dots, and set the layer to Hard Light at 73% opacity. This brush is really fun to use!) A Scatter brush on the lion fur and Kyle’s Inkbox Classic Cartoonist brush (also in the default wet media brushes from PS) for the black outline was used. Obviously lots of touch up to get the effect, but overall it was a lot of fun to do.

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Image of a sleeping lion from the Jacksonville Zoo

Another iteration of the same lion, this time using a technique by Jesus Rodriguez. He recently created a video which basically creates a Smart Object of a duplicate layer of the image. Then the Filter Gallery -> Artistic -> Poster Edges, Threshold, and Oil Paint (you can see this in the image as a typical look for this filter) adjustments were added. Each adjustment can be changed. Then on a duplicate of the image he applies the Poster Edges and Oil Paint filters again. The video is called Smart Way to Quickly Make Comic Book Drawings from your Photos. It created a really nice image. I could have used a mixer on a New Layer set to a lower opacity to get a smoother coat and face, but the pattern looked rather nice on the overall lion. If you have a person’s face, this could be easily smoothed out using several different methods.

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Image of a sleeping lion at the Jacksonville Zoo

Yep, here he is again – still sound asleep. A lot of you may remember Topaz Simplify (which is still part of Topaz Studio 2 (for website info, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar) but does not appear in quite the same format). I used the older version and added some Simplify and Adjust slider changes, but the big result is from the Edges (which Topaz Studio 2 has) set to a strong Edge Strength of 3.63 using a Normal Color Line and a fatten Edge of 2.57. Created the wonderful lines which I believe only Topaz Simplify can do. I think it creates a rather unique cartoon effect and the colors look great without having to manipulate them much back in PS.

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Image of a sleeping lion at the Jacksonville Zoo

This image looks very similar to the second image by Jesus Ramirez above – that is because they use some of the same filters but with different settings. This technique was by Chris Spooner and he shows you how to do it in his video called How to Create an Illustrated Cartoon Effect from a Photo in Adobe Photoshop. Chris uses the same technique of creating a duplicate layer smart object and then added these filters: Shadows/Highlights, Oil Paint, Poster Edges, Reduce Noise, Unsharp Mask, Smart Blur, and Cutout. It has a bit more of a drawing effect to it.

If you like this kind of look, these are just a few of the techniques that can be used to get that cartoon or comic effect. Many others incorporate a half-tone look in them and many paint parts out to make the image less detailed. Lots of creativity here and these few techniques were all pretty easy to try out. Have some fun and see what results you can get. Have a great New Year week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO SUBTLY ADJUST AREAS OF AN IMAGE USING TWO METHODS

Image of a Spanish Cay runway marker in the Bahamas
During Photoshop Week 2019 on Creative Live, I watched a segment by Randy Van Duinen called Lightroom and Photoshop for Architectural Photographers. I did not think there would be much relevant to me, but it is loaded down with some new ways of looking at photographing and post processing. It is an inexpensive class and frequently on sale – definitely worth the buy. One of Randy’s tips is about de-emphasizing those distracting areas and putting them into shadows (or as in the above, making the foreground lighter). After working with his technique, I figured out a way to get the same results using the Properties Panel on a Layer Mask, so check out the Alternate Workflow for these steps. Not sure which is the easiest to do.

WORKFLOW WITH GAUSSIAN BLUR FILTER

  1.  Select an areas with the Lasso Tool (or whatever selection tool you wish to use).
  2. Set the Quick Mask options (by double clicking on the 2nd from the bottom icon on the Tool Bar) to show the Masked Area as you want the selected area or area to be changed not covered by the overlay and the Opacity to 100% . Then enter Quick Mask mode.
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to a large amount to make a nice smooth transition between selection and other areas. Should be able to see the transition clearly. Click Enter to close filter.
  4. Press Q or press the icon again to exit Quick Mask.
  5. With selection active, open a Curves Adjustment Layer. Can now light or darken the layer mask or change the color of the layer. Remember that the Red, Green and Blue Color Channels can also be used to adjust the results.

Screenshot of the RAW file for Spanish Cay in the Bahamas
The above shows what the original image looked like as it brought in from Lightroom (just used Basic Panel corrections, cropping/straightening, and Lens Correction Panel). Duplicated the Background layer (always do this) and applied Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI (use this a lot now) set to Focus and Remove Blur 0.65 and Suppress Noise 0.20 – note that a layer mask was added as it definitely was too much sharpening for the soft clouds. I had decided that I wanted the small bush on the left to be brighter and the foreground to look more sandy than it did in the image. On another duplicated layer, the Lasso Tool was used to first select the bush. The the Quick Selection mode was used to select the areas that I DID NOT was to change. See the Screenshots below to see how the edges blend once opened in Quick Selection mode and the Gaussian Blur filter chosen and set to a Radius 52.4 pixels. By changing the radius size, the blending can be set they way you want. If you want to see some of the background, set the Opacity for Quick Mode lower than 100%. The Lasso Tool is really not that exact so if more accuracy is needed, just use the Paint Brush Tool to adjust the mask.
Screenshot of Gaussian Blur on bush
The image below shows how the blending looks with a larger area selected and a larger Radius size is used. Definitely have a much smoother transition. This time the Radius was set to 182.0 pixels, but Randy uses much larger sizes on his images. It definitely depends on the size of what you are blending and how large an image you have.
Screenshot of the foreground in Gaussian Blur for Spanish Cay image
Once the filter is applied, just click Q or the Quick Selection icon to exit and a selection will be available to apply to any type of Adjustment Layer, but with this workflow it usually involves the Curves Adjustment Layer. Of course a Levels Adjustment Layer could be used or some of the color Adjustment Layers could be used like Hue/Saturation. For the above two different Curves Adjustment Layers were used, one for each area selected. The last step was to add a Levels Adjustment Layer vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog).

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Thought I would show you a couple images that also used this same technique. In the leaves image, by darkening the background, it actually created a very 3D effect. This time the large leaves in the foreground were selected with the Lasso Tool since I wanted to darken the background. Inside the Quick Selection Mode a Gaussian Blur Radius of 424.3 pixels was used to create a more subtle transition. Then back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to darken the area somewhat. The vignette was from Topaz Lens Effects’ preset Soft Olive Green and keeping the opacity low at 32.83.

Image of some pink and green Coleus Plants at the Magic Kingdom
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My last example uses the Watercolor1 Mockup by Digital Florist. Just popped my Day Lily image with a butterfly and put on the drawing pad. The original mockup was very light, so by selecting the sketch pad, the background was darkened using this technique (Gaussian Blur Radius set to 355.2). This now draws the focus to the image and not all the painting supplies. (The crazy background was created using  Corel Particle Shop filter’s Expression and Spring Silk Ribbon brushes.)

Image of a Mockup showing my Day Lilies and a butterfly

ALTERNATE WORKFLOW

There is another way to do this same technique without using the Quick Mask Mode and I will list the steps below. I like both ways of doing this, so give each one a try.

  1.  Add a black layer mask to your image.
  2. With a larger soft brush, switch to white and paint over the area you want changed. For the top image it would be the left bush or foreground area. Note, you have do this twice for the different areas if you want to use different setting in the Adjustment Layer for each.
  3. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer above the image and clip it to the layer (press the first icon at the bottom of the Curves Adjustment Layer Panel or CTRL+click between the Image and Adjustment Layer layers in Layers Panel. Otherwise the selection changes will apply to the whole image. Do your adjustments. Levels Adjustment Layer can be used here – sometimes it gives a little better result.
  4. Click on the Layer Mask of the image layer to bring up the Properties Panel – set the Feather to get the soft transition you want. To see it as if you were in the Quick Mask Mode, click the (\) key to see the overlay or ALT+click to see just the black and white mask. Also fine tune your Layer Mask with a brush at this point in case areas were missed.

Alternate Workflow Screenshot

Not sure which way is easier, but it gives similar results. I do believe the Gaussian Blur is a little easier to see the effect, but with the overlay in the Alternate Method, it is still pretty easy to see.

This technique can be used for just a subtle change which is what I like, especially in landscape images. Have a good one until next time!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:

How to Use a Selection to Draw Focus in an Image
Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights


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.


A LITTLE DIGITAL PAINTING IN PHOTOSHOP AND NEW PHOTOSHOP BRUSHES!

Image of a Lion at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC

This week was spent mainly sharpening up my “digital painting” skills. This Lion image taken at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, just seemed to be the right type for this process as his background was up against a rather rocky fence. That is one thing to look for when choosing a subject to paint – what the background is and does it help or hurt the subject. This is not unlike adding a texture to an image to remove an ugly background. But in this case, the lion had such a wonderful furry head, he was perfect for doing a little digital work.

If you are new to digital painting and Mixer brushes, which are a main part of painting in PS, check out a couple videos by PS guru Jesus Ramirez. The first is less than two minutes long showing how to make a very basic brush (which worked pretty well for me) and is called Oil Painting Effect From Your Photos – Photoshop Mixer Brush Technique. The second is longer Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge – Mixer Brush from Adobe Creative Cloud (skip to the 9 minute mark for the tutorial). These two videos show how to get a really quick digital painting by just learning to use a Mixer Brush and make a few changes in the settings. And the results are much better than just using the Oil Paint Filter in PS.

I have been experimenting with painting on a layer(s) above using regular and mixer brushes, then going back to the original image layer and duplicating it. Next going into Topaz Impression via Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio or Topaz Labs, and applying the Impression filter. (For this image, used default settings and changed: Stroke to 07, Stroke Width -0.24, and Texture set to Background Type Original – had to do a little smoothing in PS to remove stroke edges.) Back in PS the top layer(s) are still your original digital painting strokes with the Impression layer underneath – this gives a nice undercoating to continue painting over. The Mixer Brushes will now begin picking up some color from the Impression layer. Create more layers using different brushes to get a really nice painted image that will show off your own style.

The lion image took several hours to complete, lots of layers, and 7 iterations before the best look was achieved. It has been my experience that digital painting takes quite a while to get a good look, especially if there are a lot of details in the image. You may want to keep it in but be sure to soften it down.

2019 Summer Brushes

Also as a side note, I just downloaded Kyle T. Webster’s 2019 Summer Brushes – to download, open pop out menu in the upper right corner of the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes. (if you are not logged into the Cloud, you will need to log in at this point.) Kyle’s website opened up where the new brushes shown at the top of the page. Kyle says “Find your perfect summer color with brushes that take advantage of Photoshop’s unique color mixing effects. Also included in this set: A tribute brush to the great Ben Shahn, an updated China Marker, and great new pattern brushes.” There are 23 new brushes, 3 of them Mixers. I am looking forward to giving them a test run!

Hope you get a chance to check out those two videos and try out some digital painting. It is a lot of fun!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter
Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can!


RECYCLE-HOW TO GET A PAINTERLY EFFECT FOR WILDLIFE AND BIRDS

Painted image of a Tamarin Monkey at the Smithsonian National Zoo
I can’t believe I did this post 4 years ago, but I did. Time flies when you are having fun! Thought I would rerun it as I have been doing a little painting this week and I am pretty much doing the same things. This little Tamarin Monkey at the Smithsonian National Zoo is an example of more painting and just having fun. The background texture is by Shadowhouse Creations called Rich Tone Texture 2. Several painting layers were created using several of my basic brushes, like my SJ Pastel Paint 3 brush and the Fan Flat Blender Mixer from PS, but pretty much anything goes when painting. Just find a couple brushes you like and start changing sizes and spacing, etc. – eventually you will find a couple you like. A Color Look Adjustment Layer helped give the moody background feel and a little dodging and burning was done. But that was about it. Very relaxing and fun to do. And remember when you are painting, if something does not look quite right, just keep adding layers. Lots of times it starts to take a nice form, sort of like real painting! In the meantime, have a great week – must get ready for Fall photographing! ….. And on with the blog…..Digital Lady Syd

Image of an egret on a painted textureFor a few weeks I have been experimenting with some of the wonderful painterly techniques of Jai Johnson, a wildlife enthusiast who creates absolutely beautiful images. I am finally getting some results that are appealing to my personal taste as I love photographing wildlife in the natural habitat. I thought I would pass on what works for me. On her website she has several really nice videos. She uses Topaz (see website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) photoFXlab as a stand-alone, but it is pretty easy to follow along and do the same steps in most versions of Photoshop. Lately I have been doing my painting in CS6 to increase the stroking speed especially with the Mixer Brushes, although all the CC versions will work fine.

Love the beautiful egrets that can be found in the rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in the Spring. This bird just seemed happy to me and was a lot of fun to paint. The background is one created in Painter for him. I believe you could create some nice watercolor backgrounds in Photoshop that would give a similar result. I needed a yellow warm light in the background to match the sunlight on his body. Used Jai’s basic workflow that puts him on top and then in a black mask, the original background is removed. She also uses Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter – in this case used to lighten the bird up. The texture was duplicated two more times and placed on top – one used Multiply blend mode at 16% layer opacity and the other Color Dodge blend mode at 15% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer was opened and the Colorize button was checked with the Hue set to 48 and Saturation 25 – filled the mask with black (CTRL+I in mask) and painted back just lightly areas I wanted the warmer color to appear. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add emphasis to the head area. The Eyes and Beak were sharpened using two Exposure Adjustment Layers. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog,) Then a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and opened in Topaz ReStyle using the Peppermint Gray preset (one of my favorites) to get a little different color balance. Back in PS the layer was set to 45% layer opacity and the bottom foreground was painted out in a layer mask to keep it slightly darker so the bird looks grounded. Last steps involved used New Layers to clean up distracting colors or areas.

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Image of Wood Stork on painted background
I totally love Wood Storks, the gentle looking birds that are everywhere down here in Florida. This one happened to be standing in the top of a tree at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, but they are everywhere in my neighborhood. There were actually two other birds next to him doing some crazy things so I removed them. They seem to tolerate people very well also.

In this image he was placed on a new texture created just for him in Painter. I tried to use complementary colors to the bird. If you like this type of texture, check out Jai Johnson‘s inexpensive (and some really nice free ones) and beautiful textures that give similar effects. The usual steps were taken of putting the bird layer on top of the texture, adding a black layer mask, and painting just the bird back with a white brush in the mask so the texture shows through from below. One of Jai’s great tips is to try to match up the texture with the original background colors of your subject. Used the Properties Panel Density slider to reduce the mask opacity to be able to see where the subject is for the initial painting in the layer mask, then put the slider back up to 100% when blocked in a little. Duplicated the texture and placed it on top of the bird layer, set it to Soft Light Blend Mode at 62% layer opacity. Did some clean up layers to even out some of the edges.

I am finding Topaz Lens Effect’s Toy Camera filter is working well with my bird images. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top to apply this filter. Looked at the different presets and choose one, in this case the Yellow Green Low Contrast preset. The Vignette was set 0 and all the sliders in the Toy Camera Aberrations section far left to 0 since I really do not want the Toy Camera effect. The next Toy Camera sections should be adjusted for the individual image. (For the above the Region Size was set to 0.17, Transition 0.42 and Angle 55.25 – especially watch the Angle as it affects how the colors lay out on the image. Next adjusted the Region A Color Cast and Region B Color Cast to fit this image – mainly adding a little bit of Reds, Yellows and Blues to get the colors I liked.) I like how you can really adjust the colors around to get some nice blended effects. Finally adjusted the standard Image Adjustment sliders to add saturation and contrast. These presets, with some tweaking, can really give an image a beautiful soft and blended result.

The Eyes were again sharpened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer, and then another for just the beak. These two areas have to be sharp since the eye will look first at them with birds, but be careful not to over-sharpen so they do not blend into the image – reduce the opacity of the adjustment layer a little if this happens. Next I wanted to add just a little contrast around his head so a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add some burning by pulling down on the curve to get the correct tone behind his head, filling the mask with black (CTRL+I), and painting back where I want the effect. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog). The last step added Nik Viveza 2 to really make the focal point, the head area, pop out. Since the background is competing with his white feathers, the feathers needed some punch and a little softening in this area.

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Image of a beautiful tigerThis beautiful photo was from FreeImages – wish I could take credit for taking this image. The photo was used to follow the steps in Jai’s last video called Working With Bold Colors and Abstract Textures. This image had a really bright colored texture like Jai was using as a background. In her video she suggested trying out Topaz ReStyle, and that is where this color effect was applied. Also Topaz Adjust’s Boost preset was used instead of the Bold preset she prefers on the tiger layer. Topaz Simplify’s BuzzSim preset was used on just the subject layer. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter was applied, and then ReStyle’s Dusty Desert preset which gives the almost colorless result. To finish an Exposure Adjustment Layer for the eyes and then Nik Viveza 2 to even out the background just a little were applied. Wish I had taken this image. Sigh!

Well hope you get a chance to check out Jai Johnson’s techniques on your wildlife images. Like I said, all her techniques can be used in Photoshop without too many changes – just experiment with the brush opacity and Flow settings is about all I see that is a little different. And I really like the Topaz Lens Effects Toy Camera effects – something I had not even looked at before! Hope you are all having a great summer – I am!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Topaz Lens Effects For Some Image Fun
How To See If You Captured the Focal Point
A Little Birdie Told Me So!
Jumping Whales
Horses Checking Me Out


TOPAZ STUDIO 2 IMPRESSION AND PHOTOSHOP BRUSHES


Image of a Water Lily blossom at the National Zoo in Washington, DC

This week I have been playing around with the update Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio 2. (Last week I did a review of the of it – check out my What About This Topaz Studio 2 Update? Not Bad! blog and video.) I imagine that everyone has noticed several small updates came out this week, each adding a couple more features to the interface. There now is a Navigation Tool on the bottom right toolbar – it is so handy for moving around the image when zoomed way in. A Crop/Rotate/Straighten tool has also been added – probably will not use this a lot but sometimes when an image is crooked, it is nice to have. Your own textures can now be added into the Texture filter as in Topaz Studio 1. I am really looking forward to being able to add another layer as an image (like the Image Layer filter in the original) – I miss not having this feature. But all in all Topaz has been working hard to get this updated software running smoothly.

A Little about Brushes

The Water Lily image, taken at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, is an example of using the wonderful Impression filter that comes with Topaz Studio 2. For me it works great as either a nice painterly background for regular portraits or animal images or as a painting starting point as used in the Lily look. For this image Impression’s default settings were applied except the Type 06 Brush Stroke was used. Back in PS, on separate layers, Blender Mixer Brushes and my SJ Pastel 3 regular painting brush were used to add color and smooth out the strokes. (To create this brush, check out my How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-up blog – in the middle are the settings.) Even though they have been around for a while, Fay Sirkis mixers are some of the best – only place I can find to download them is from her Kelby One painting courses and they are worth it.

Obviously Kyle Webster provides a huge amount of choices for painting.  The PS Legacy brushes are also still available and have a lot of good mixer brushes. The Fan Flat Blender Mixer brush, located by clicking the Brushes Panel pop-out in top right and select Converted Legacy Tool Presets (when dialog appears asking to “Restore the Converted…”, say OK to add set to the brush list) is a great brush and several variations can easily be made in the Brush Settings Panel (like changing the Brush Angle and Size, adding Shape Dynamics, and adjusting Texture settings).

I also love GrutBrushes – his cloud brushes are just the best available and his InkyLeaks splatter set is really good also (check out his free sampler of brushes and his free brush of the week each Monday).


Image of the Toucans greeting visitors at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm

My previously presented Toucan image is an example of using an Impression filter, in this case it was the Edward Hopper Look (previously preset) – used a Topaz brush to mask out the eyes and beaks of the birds, but the result of not applying the whole painterly effect to the image can be seen. This to me is one major reason why I have to have Topaz Studio 2 as no other plugin company has anything like Impression in their filters. Back in Photoshop a regular soft small soft round brush was used on a New Layer to really emphasize the eyes more. Most of the time a painting clean up layer needs to be done to fine-tune where a few strokes are off a little.

Turning Any Blender Mixer Brush into a Painting Mixer Brush (or One that Adds Color)

To create some of your own Mixer Brush variations, I have listed a few steps to help you out.

Settings for a Blender Mixer: To blend the colors , in the Options Bar:

  • Turn off the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon by clicking on it
  • Always leave “Clean the brush after every stroke” clicked on
  • Select the Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the drop-down
  • Check Sample All Layers

Now you have a pretty nice blending Mixer brush. If some color shows up, you left the “Load” icon turned on.

Settings for a Painting Mixer:

  • Turn On the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon (or no color will be painted as the icon will be clear)
  • Change the drop down to Dry, Light Load
  • ALT+click in your image to sample a color if using one from your image. Note that there is a drop-down by the “Current Brush Load” icon which gives you a choice to “Load Solid Colors Only” instead of a bit of what was under your brush when you clicked

Dab a few times to add your color and then turn off the “Current Brush Load” icon and set back to the Very Wet Heavy Mix to blend some more. This is really handy to know when you are blending away and find that you are missing a color to mix into the background. Since just blending the color back in, it does not have to look that good when you dab. This being said, lots of times I just use a regular brush to add the color in if using the same stroke effect is not that important. Either way works great depending on where the blending is occurring in the image.

That’s it for this week – just thought I would share a little how I paint using Topaz Studio 2 Impression. I like to work this way as Impression gives a nice effect in the background and as much or as little of this effect can be left in the image by using Photoshop brushes. It gives me the creative aspect I want but cuts down on the actual background painting time. Hope this was a helpful blog for those of you wanting to try out painting. Impression is definitely the way to go. And remember, it comes with Topaz Studio 2! Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd