Anything Photoshop or Photography

Photoshop Brushes

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


TAKING A CREATIVE BREAK

Painted image of a Ring Tailed Lemur from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Sometimes I like to just take a break from all the techniques I am learning and do something because I feel like doing it. So this week’s blog is not really emphasizing anything, but doing what this blog is all about – “Just Having Fun!” So without further ado, here are some images I have created in the last few weeks just because it was FUN!

Not to bore everyone too much, but I will give you a few insights as to how I got a particular look for these images. This fabulous Ring Tailed Lemur above is one of my favorite recent compositions. The basis for creating this effect was a video by Jesus Ramirez called Pencil Sketch Effect from a Photo in Photoshop. His technique does not work on every image, but sometimes it gives an interesting result and it worked on this image. It gave a great beginning overall sketch of my subject that was different from others I have tried. I actually created an action to do these steps. The ugly background area had to be removed next. On more layers Photoshop’s Fan Flat Blender mixer brush (located in PS’s Converted Legacy Tool Presets -> Default Tool Presets) was selected to paint in the hair and several variations were made in the Brush Settings Panel (like changing the Brush Angle and Size, adding Shape Dynamics, and adjusting Texture settings). It was fun to do this and I like the results the new brushes created – am now using them a lot including on the bottom image.

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Dreamy Landscape
This image’s final effect turned out to be a surprise. It all started when I read a tutorial by Scott Valentine in the Kelby One Photoshop User Magazine from March 2018 called Hard Mix Tricks. There was a section about creating a Pop Art look. A Curves Adjustment Layer (which is just a placeholder to set the blend mode – any adjustment layer could have been used) was set to Hard Mix blend mode on top of the original image (see Pixabay’s Chiemsee-517997_1920) – the image now was broken down into its basic colors. Between the Curves Adjustment Layer and the original image a Black and White Adjustment Layer was set to Luminosity blend mode. The color sliders were adjusted so more colors were added back in. Now I did my own thing by adding several New Layers on top. Used David Belliveau’s super Mixer Blender Brush to smooth the mountains and water in the image. By pulling this brush up, the grass in front was created. For the details several smaller regular and mixer brushes were used. The bird is from Obsidian Dawn. To get the color palette, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Futuristic Bleak preset. Again this was just some fun that came about by playing with brushes. I think this image would look good in several different color palettes. And other brushes will definitely give some different results – I think I will be trying out this technique on other images.

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Image of a Sunda Teal (Duck) taken at the Jacksonville Zoo, Florida
This sweet duck was overall a pretty nice image and had a teal blue water background. The sketch technique was used here just like on the Lemur image. The duck was selected and placed on a layer above, the feathers were painted back in using the Mixer brushes created in the top image. The texture I made in Corel Painter and was placed behind the duck. Three different fonts were used in this image: Sunda used Blossom, Teal used Breakable, and Anas gibberifrons used Dancing Script. I like all three of these free fonts. Topaz’s (see website at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle filter was used with a preset from one of my images to unify the color.

Painting in Photoshop is not so popular, but it is very satisfying if you have a bit of a creative vein in your vision. I hope you enjoyed my images – will probably be returning back to tips and tricks but I thought I would share these. Have a good week and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms out there!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO DO A BASIC DODGE AND BURN WITH A TWIST

Image of a Squirrel Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida
This is a pretty basic blog on Dodging and Burning – a topic everyone knows about can be so confusing when you see all the different methods out there from the various Photoshop gurus. I have done several blogs on dodging and burning using other techniques (see my related blogs at the end of post). Recently I was looking through Glyn Dewis’s (another great PS guru) really good book called Photograph Like a Thief and found this technique. Had to try it out so here is my guinea pig, I mean Squirrel Monkey, taken at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. It is a good example for using this technique since he has a lot of back-lighting on his body (this little guy just would not stop moving long enough for me to get his face straight on through a fence, so this is what I got – as they say better than no picture at all). Using the following steps, the monkey was dodged over the edges of his face, whiskers, top of his head to emphasize the lighting effect, and burned where his tail is and parts of his fingers to show a little separation in these areas.

Workflow

I am sure you have heard of this technique using black and white brushes to paint in where the highlights and shadows should be. This time, besides using the 50% gray layer, the Dodge Tool and Burn Tools were selected instead of the Brush Tool to create a really nice soft effect. Simple enough. So lets start with the easy set up workflow and then discuss why you would do it this way.

  1. Create a New Layer on top of your image this way:  ALT+click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Name the layer Dodge and Burn, set the Mode to Soft Light so the Fill with Soft-Light-neutral color (50% gray) checkbox is visible.
  2. Set the color swatches to their default black and white (CTRL+D for black and white, and then click on the Foreground Color and open the Color Picker – set it to Midtone Gray – H0/S0/B50). It does not seem to matter if you forget this right now, but you do need to create a Medium Gray foreground color to do this technique correctly.
  3. Select the Dodge Tool (O Key) in the Toolbar. Create a soft round brush and in the Options Bar use these settings: Range: Midtones, Exposure5%, and check the Protect Tones box. I saved my brush and named it GDewis Dodge Brush.
  4. With the Dodge Tool selected, softly paint over the light areas of your image where you would like some extra highlights to be. Build up your effect slowly as a little bit goes a long way.
  5. Hold down the ALT Key and the same settings will be used to paint with the Burn Tool – paint over areas to be darkened and also build up the effect. For example, if my regular Burn Tool brush is set to 23% Exposure setting, it does not matter – just the 5% that is in the Dodge Tool settings is applied. (This applies the reverse way if the Burn Tool is selected and the ALT Key is held for the Dodge Tool.) Major Cool!
  6. If you made a mistake and an area is too light or too dark, switch to the Brush Tool and paint over the white or black marks to set it back to the Medium Gray instead of trying to erase it. That is why the foreground is set to Medium Gray. Also Major Cool! Set the Brush Tool opacity to less if you only want to reduce the effect partially.

To see the gray layer without the underlying layers, ALT+click on the eyeball and the other layers disappear. ALT+click on the eyeball again and they appear. This makes it really easy to fine tune areas that may be over brightened or darkened. I find I am constantly turning this on and off to see where the effect appears overdone.

You can adjust the Exposure setting as much as you want, but he prefers to keep it fairly low – in the 5-10% range – and building the effect up slowly. Some info from The Photoshop Wow Book for CS3 and CS4 follows: Many people like to use the Overlay blend mode instead of Soft Light for the gray layer. Just watch out for your image becoming too saturated – if this happens, change to Soft Light. Also, the Protect Tones checkbox causes the tool to reduce its effect on pure black or white (Adobe says it minimizes clipping in the shadows and highlights). It also attempts to protect the hue so your colors do not become more neutral as you alter their luminance. And different types of brush tips can be used and settings just like with a regular brush – only Color Dynamics is not available in the in Brush Panel. Try changing the Exposure Jitter slider in the Transfer section for an interesting different result.

The Alligator image below used three dodging and burning techniques to get this final effect. I really like the subtle way Glyn’s technique adds the contrast. But the image needed some small details lines added for separation as these alligators are look similar – so I used  my Best Dodging and Burning Technique blog on a separate layer above, then a couple Curves Adjustment Layers were used to paint in parts of the areas that needed a little more darkening and lightening. The point is, sometimes you just have to combine techniques.

Image of Alligators sunbathing at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida

Why This Works

This technique finally makes sense to me and here is why. I have always been confused as to why some people just use black and white brushes to dodge and burn since it creates a pretty good result also. Glen says “…. when I’m dodging and burning, if I need to remove or reduce an area, I can quickly select a brush and paint over the area with this 50% gray color at whatever opacity I choose.” This means it is much faster to remove mistakes by just switching to the Brush Tool (B Key) instead of using the Erase Tool which may be too strong or sharp, or having to keep selecting the gray color for the foreground color to make the correction and then changing the foreground back to black. Otherwise I am not sure there is a lot of difference.

It works great on portraits which is what Glyn’s photography seems to emphasize. But on a very busy floral image of Azaleas, it just had very little effect. That confused me – until – wait the Dodge and Burn Tools are both set to Range Midtones. If your image is has more contrast to start, then possibly a Range set to Highlights would make more sense for painting with the Dodge Tool. David Belliveau, the wonderful painter and illustrator, in his Dodge & Burn: How to Fix Highlights in Your Paintings video says using the Dodge Tool set to a Midtones Range, even if you keep painting over it, only affects the midtones in your image. The highlights or shadows will remain the same and you could very easily blow out the midtones. See left side image below.

  • If you set the Range to Highlights, all the sudden the whites popped a lot more. Since Azaleas have a lot of white in them, it is what was needed on the flowers.
  • By changing the Dodge Tool to a Shadows Range and painting over the darker areas, just a little bit of light is introduced into the darkest areas.
  • If the Dodge Tool is set to Highlights Range and the ALT key is held down to get the Burn Tool, what happens? When I tried this, it added just a little bit of darkening to the edges of my flowers and actually slight cooled down blow areas in parts of the flowers. This was a surprise to me, but definitely worth trying when you have blown out areas of an image that is attracting too much attention. See the right side image below.

Tych of Dewis Dodge & Burn Method

Image of Belliveau Method of Dodge & Burn

Glyn Dewis also says it makes it a lot easier to blend or transition the light and dark areas on an image, especially in portraits. One of his portrait tricks is to select with the Lasso Tool for example on the gray layer a rough transition area, and duplicate the selection by clicking CTRL+J. Then on selected area go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur to soften the transition a little bit.

I guess what I am getting at is you need to experiment with these settings and adjust them so they work with the image being post-processed. This actually turned out to be a lot of fun and I believe there are some good creative uses here along with the great advantage of being able to selectively emphasize how the dark and bright areas are presented without touching the original image. Hope you learned something – I sure did just by trying out all the brush settings. I plan on taking next week off so will blog here in as soon as I can get back at it. Have a great week! ….. Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
How to Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
How to use Linear Dodge (Add) & Linear Burn Modes on Image
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
How to Create a Subtle Dodge and Burn Effect
How to Add a Spot of Light


SHOWING SOME OF SERGE RAMELLI’S EFFECTS

Image of an African Elephant at the Jacksonville ZooThis week I watched a few videos by the Lightroom guru Serge Ramelli. Thought I would show a few things I have learned from his techniques in the last few weeks. I have found that if you follow a few of his videos, you get the main idea of how he gets the results that are definitely a signature effect for his style. I like it, but not sure it fits all my photos. This blog will show a few things I have learned from him.

He went on a safari recently and created some interesting Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw presets so I decided to try them out. The above African Elephant image was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and seemed like a perfect subject for my first attempt.

To download the free presets, need to go to one of his U-Tube videos where he has a link to them – How to Edit Amazing Landscape Photos with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or How to Remove Fence Lines: Simple Camera Trick. You must sign up for his site to get them. I do not feel these are Serge’s best videos, but I appreciate the fact that he has given us some interesting presets to try out. There are 10 presets with the download, and the one used above is called Warm Dramatic Light – it seems to be his favorite. Two Radial Filters were used to brighten up the elephant face a little light reflection on the foreground rock. Two Graduated Filters were used one on the bottom and one on right side. For the rest of the workflow, the image was brought into Photoshop (the latest PS update this week fixed the problem with opening PS from Lightroom to edit an image). I believe if one thing has changed my recent workflow from the holidays, it is Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Studio’s AI Clear. I am now using it on every image as my first step in PS. In this image the Clarity slider was also set to 44. A Dehaze Adjustment was also added and set to 41. Back in PS an Exposure Adjustment Layer was used on the eye and a 50% Gray layer was used to Dodge and Burn on the elephant.

Another trick I learned this week was from Jesus Ramirez, definitely a PS guru, in his Color Matching in Photoshop Fast and Easy – 90 Second Tip #05 (Phew!). This is the coolest tip which uses the Curves Adjustment Layer – check out his video as it is really short and to the point. (I may do a blog on this as it really is a good technique to have in your arsenal of PS effects.) The last steps were just a little clean up in the image. Between the nice Safari preset of Serge and the Curves Adjustment Layer of Jesus, the image has a natural African safari feel to it.

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B&W image of Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island in HawaiiThis image was created by following several videos in a class at Kelby One by Serge called Lightroom Classic Techniques for Creating Black and White Images. I felt like Serge did an excellent job on discussing this process and gave some really nice presets with the course. I have not taken any of his individual classes he sells, but for the $9 sale price, it is probably a good buy if you want to learn his black and white technique. This image used a B&W preset created in the class but he does have some that are in his free Welcome Kit (28 presets and lots of other goodies) offered at his site. One thing I did learn is when to use a black & white treatment. He says “Boring colors mean go black and white.” In Photoshop Topaz Studio’s AI Clear was applied. The image was cropped and a few spots cleaned up. A slight vignette was created using Matt Kloskowski’s technique – see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog. That was it – not even a Curves Adjustment Layer was needed for contrast.

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Image of a carved wooden post in the countryside of BelarusThis image was taken on a country road in Belarus and of course it did not have any snow. This image used Serge’s preset called Zoo Hollywood (in a free set of 6 that can be downloaded with his video called How to Turn Your Zoo Photos into Fine Art with Lightroom). In PS, Topaz Studio was opened and AI Clear applied, then Topaz Impression using the Type 03 brush. Next the Edge Adjustment was added to give some interesting edges to the cornfield. Back in PS Serge’s Snow brushes were applied – these are probably the best atmospheric snow brushes I have used – 10 of them in the set. Check out his video called How To Create Snow in Photoshop CC to download them. His video shows a few tricks to make them look good. I just had fun applying them. Nik Viveza 2 was used to even out the colors and that was about it.

Hope you get a chance to try out Serge’s presets and brushes – they are really nice. He takes a bit of a different approach to his images for processing and the presets show this. Enjoy your week!…..Digital Lady Syd


PUPPET WARP REPLAY

Image of a Cityscape of NYCJust doing a little update on the Puppet Warp tool this week using the tool on text (and the original image). So here is a short blog on how to do this.

A free font called Geno Shadow Grunge for the both lines of text was used.

  1. First type in your text, then convert the layer into a Smart Object.
  2. Double click on the Smart Object icon in thumbnail to open as a PSB document.
  3. Before starting to change the font, the size of the layer needs to be increased so go to Image -> Canvas Size and check relative and use 0.5 inches in both the Width and Height fields. This gives more room to stretch the font around.
  4. Now go to Edit -> Puppet Warp – a dialog opens that says the text layer must be rasterized – so say OK.
  5. Add Puppet Warp points to each letter to stretch the text – lots of fun here.
  6. When done with Puppet Warp, click the check in the Options Bar.
  7. Make any other changes like color or adding adjustment layers and when finished, press CTRL+S (File ->Save) to save the PSB file and then close the file. The text layer will now be updated in the Photoshop file. Pretty cool!

The buildings were also Puppet Warped on a duplicate of the original image from the 20 New York Photos from Deeezy photos. To get the poster looking colors, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was added on top .The different letters were colored by adding a Blank Layer and clipping it to the Smart Object Layer, then sampling colors from the image. Some scribble brush strokes were added underneath the letters on blank layers (brushes included in the free Adobe Creative Magazine Photoshop action called Turn Photoshop into Illustrations). Below is what the actual Puppet Warp pins looked like when I finished the text in the Smart Object. Had to erase out some extraneous lines that occurred when the warp was added.

Image of Puppet Warp Pins screenshotHope you give Puppet Warp a try – it can give some really interesting looks that are a lot different from just using the regular Warp effect. Here is a link to an earlier blog I created called How to Use the Puppet Warp Tool Creatively). Enjoy and have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


WHERE TO FIND A GOOD PHOTOSHOP PAINTER

Digital Drawing/Painting of a Young LadyJust popping onto my blog to go over a fun painting/drawing technique I attempted recently. This young lady is an illustration I drew in Photoshop only using the reference stock photo from Little Girl Stock as a guide – no painting over the image. This is my first attempt at digitally drawing an image. I made it of a little older young lady as it fit what I felt like drawing. I am learning this technique from David Belliveau and his Paintable website, who had a One Week Portrait Class with lots of videos and brushes. I found the whole thing very addictive – who knew I could actually create an illustrated portrait??? For a quick overview of what he does, check out his Digital Painting Walkthrough: Portrait Tips & Tricks video. If you are interested in downloading some good Photoshop painting brushes, check out his How to Paint Realistic Eyes: The Ultimate Guide video. It includes a set of 14 brushes and 1 Smudge Tool preset (which I really love) to go along with this tutorial (but also will work on any painting project). The video goes over a short example of painting eyes that follows the same basic steps of his digital painting program.

This image took a long time to complete and lots of mistakes were made along the way. I am not sure when David will be running another one of his Portrait classes. He has so many videos posted on YouTube that it would be pretty easy to learn. I tried to paint another example for this blog, but it just is not ready to present. It is a very time-consuming process. I can see this definitely takes a lot of practice. And even though I liked David’s brushes, some of my other painting brushes worked really well. I created a group of Portrait Painting Brushes in the Brush Preset Panel. There some of David’s brushes were added along with several of my favorite Grut Brushes (Grut-I Qwillo-my favorite drawing brush for sketching, and Grut-My Dehy-good texture brush especially nice for skin and eye irises). In the meantime, if you are interested in trying out this type of digital painting, check out David’s You Tube videos where he has lots of great information posted. I think he is an excellent teacher and a lot can be learned. Enjoy your week – I am going to be painting another person!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO SAVE A PHOTOSHOP CC2018 REGULAR BRUSH AS A DIFFERENT TOOL

Image of a Leopard in a poster effectJust dropping in this week to share this composite Leopard image. The whole image started because of a blog that Chris Spooner recently wrote called How To Create an Animal Fur Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop. I am not sure how often I will use this text effect, but he gives instructions on how to make a fur brush using the Pen Tool so I had to try it out. It has turned out to be a very nice brush and was used in several places in the above image. The actual brush created has several little spikes sticking out in a circular manner and is mainly used to create a fur edging on a path for the actual text effect. I personally found it to be very useful for adding softness to the edges of the Leopard around the cat’s body and to add more of a hairy emphasis to the lettering edges. I applied it manually using different sizes. I wanted to use it as a Clone Stamp Tool to add some of the actual texture and color from inside the Leopard body to the outside edges. That is how the steps below were created which turns a Regular Photoshop brush into any other type of Brush Tool.  Since PS’s latest updates that now keep a brush’s Options Bar info with the brush preset, it has been difficult to use it for other Tools such as the Clone Stamp, or Eraser, or Smudge Brush. So here is the trick to actually using the brush for other tools:

    1. Save the Regular Brush created as a preset in the Brush Settings Panel using the default settings if the brush was just created. The Create New Brush icon is at the bottom of the Brush Settings Panel or the Brush Preset Panel (located to the left of the Trash Can) and the brush will be shown at the end of the list in the Brush Preset Panel. If brush to be converted is already listed, skip this step.
    2. Highlight this brush in the list and create a new preset by clicking the Create New Brush icon as in Step 1.
    3. When dialog opens up, Rename brush but do not check “Include Tool Setting” – now no tool will be connected with this brush. No brush icon appears to the right of the name in the Presets Panel.
    4. Select a different Tool such as the Clone Brush Tool. The settings from the regular brush are now connected to the selected Clone Stamp Tool.
    5. To save this Clone Stamp brush, create another preset and this time check “Include Tool Setting” – all your settings will be preserved with the brush.

For the above fur brush, the spiked ball brush settings from both the Brush Settings Panel including the dab structure and the Options Bar settings are now part of the my new Clone Stamp brush which was immediately saved down as a new Clone Brush to retain the settings.

It seemed to take a long time to complete this image but all the layers are just the same ones used in any composite. The Background was created in Corel Painter. The Fur font is Cosmi 04, a really old font. The Leopard font is one called Braveheart, which was rasterized and warped on a New layer to get it to fit over the Leopard (which was a free image from Pixabay). The font letters were also connected by hand as they did not look correct after warping. On1 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Photo Raw 2018 Effects was used to initially sharpen the leopard. The cat’s Paw and the little cat are a set of brushes from Brusheezy and a black leather texture was clipped to the paw. The fur brush was then used to paint on the paw print at a low opacity to get the shiny highlights. A Dodge and Burn layer at 50% gray set to Overlay blend mode was used. A shadow was created for the leopard and smudged to smooth out. One of the legs of the leopard look strange so the front forward paw was duplicated, warped and placed in back to cover up this area. The last step involved going into Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio and applying AI ReMix using the Ink Blot swatch set to Overlay blend mode at 0.89% opacity (Topaz Studio has added several new swatches to AI ReMix so if own it, update to get them). It gave the whole image a sort of abstract feel. This was all very easy to composite.

If you like making brushes, I would recommend checking out Chris’s tutorial – it is a really interesting brush and a new way to create a brush effect. Well, so much for being gone – will probably miss the next couple weeks. Hope you are enjoying the lovely Spring weather!…..Digital Lady Syd


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD!

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

A couple of notes  –

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

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

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

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


HOW TO CREATE A SUBTLE DODGE AND BURN EFFECT

Image of little yellow blooms on a Ti PlantThis week I am doing a little video on how I brought these tiny yellow flowers into sharper focus using one of my favorite dodging and burning techniques and show what a few of my other workflow techniques look like once applied. This image could have been used with several other textures or have been cropped differently for a totally look. I really liked the negative space and dreamy feel of the image, so I left it the way it was done for the video. Links to more information are provided below. Here is the video:

Here is a list of places that will give you more info or where you can get more information on some of the techniques or resources presented in the video:

  • Lightroom Preset called Hazy Days 17 by 2 Lil’ Owls – See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link, she has a lot of great Lightroom presets besides her gorgeous textures.
  • My Fun Photoshop The Best Dodging and Burning Technique blog – basically same technique as presented in the video except that a black brush color is used to burn instead of sampling a dark color from the image.
  • I Qwillo Brush from GrutBrushes.com – keep checking back on Monday’s on Nicolai’s site for a free brush each week – love his brushes!
  • Adobe’s Paper Texture Pro – free panel that can be added into Photoshop to quickly add and change textures layers to your images – very useful.
  • My Fun Photoshop How to Add a Spot of Light blog – the blog used a technique by Corey Barker, but Pratik Naik uses the same technique with the soft round low flow brush – try this brush in different colors to get some interesting effects.
  • My Fun Photoshop How to Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog – should use this technique on every image to make sure your focal point is standing out.
  • My Fun Photoshop Yet Another Great Way to Create a Vignette! blog – same technique used in the blog except the Gradient Editor was opened and the gradient color changed from black to a soft purplish color in the bottom left tab. Blake Rudis came up with a brilliant idea here!

If anyone has questions on some of the procedures performed on this image, just drop me a question in the comments below and I will go over it more clearly. This was a pretty fast pace for describing all the steps followed in this image. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and Happy Halloween!…..Digital Lady Syd


WHAT IS NEW IN THE PHOTOSHOP BRUSHES PANEL AND USING THE SMOOTHING SLIDER

Image of a digitally painted Tri-colored HeronThis week Adobe Photoshop released CC2018, a long awaited update, which finally addresses some of the issue we painterly people have wanted for a long, long time. Adobe claims to have increased the speed of brushes for just painting. Since a lot of us have used Corel Painter for years and it has one of the easiest systems to set up brush palettes, it was always a wonder why Photoshop did not do a similar thing. Well they finally have. It may not be quite as easy to use as Painter’s, but it goes a long way towards correcting some of the digital artist problems with organizing their brushes. Above is a tri-colored heron taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm that was painted using the new Brushes Panel set-up. It took a while to get my brushes converted over, but it is overall a much faster workflow.

Photoshop Brushes Panel

To clean up some initial confusion, the old Brush Panel is now called the Brush Settings Panel and is where the settings for each brush are located. The old Brush Presets Panel is not called the Brushes Panel and is where all the brushes are listed.

  • Photoshop now allows New Groups (or folders) for saved brushes and sub-groups can be added into the new group. So for example, if you want to put all your Texture brushes into one group, the group can be added and sub-groups created for brushes used for backgrounds and those used in drawing. Also Mixers or Erasers or any different types of brushes can be grouped with Regular brushes so you can easily switch between the different types without having to select the new Tool.
  • Within the Brushes Panel, the brushes can be moved between the groups by just clicking and dragging. No need to go to the Preset Manager to organize the brush order. Some people like to keep brushes together for a current project so the top Group might be named Flower, and the sub-groups Background and Retouching. If you want the same brush in two places, a new copy of the brush needs to be made by highlighting the group to add it to and clicking on the New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brushes Panel – name it the same and the new preset brush will pop into the highlighted group.
  • The brush presets now store all the Options Bar information with them as if it was a Brush Tool Preset. So if you wanted to have one brush set to 100% opacity and the same brush set to 50% opacity, they could be created and saved in the same group for quick switching. This means no more Brush Tool Presets, but will still need to create Tool Presets for the Gradient Tool and Paint Bucket since they are not brushes.
  • Both the Brush Tip and the Brush Strokes can be seen in the display. To load the Brush Tip, click on the upper right pop-out in Brushes Panel, and check Brush Tip along with the Brush Stroke and Brush Name. The brush view can be made bigger or smaller by moving the slider at the bottom of the Brushes Panel. And the panel can be dragged out horizontally to display several columns of brushes if several are listed in a group. If a color is saved with the brush, a little square shows up in the list showing the color.
  • Brush Tool Presets can be easily converted to regular Brush presets. If just converting one or two Tool Preset brushes, just select the brush in your Tool Preset and click the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brushes Panel. A New Brush dialog box appears with check boxes for Capture Brush Size in Preset, Include Tool Settings, and Include Color. A note of caution here – PS might name the brush some really weird title if that the brush creator used so make sure the brush has the desired name. The brush will be placed either at the bottom of the Brushes list or in a Group that was highlighted before saving the preset. If you accidentally try to save the brush as a Tool Preset, a long dialog appears asking if you want to actually change it to a Brush Preset instead. By saying yes, the brush will then be placed into a new Converted Tool Presets group. For converting all the Brush Tool Presets, go to the pop-out in the upper right corner of the Tool Preset panel and select Convert All to Brush Presets – they will all be placed in a new group called the Converted Tool Presets group. In this case, all the brushes will retain the same names from the Tool preset. Really weird. By converting the Tool Preset brushes to regular brushes, the brush file extensions in PS will change from a .tpl to .abr files.

Here is a link to a short video by of my favorite Adobe people, Julieanne Kost, called New Brush Preset Management in Photoshop CC for more information on the Brushes Panel.

Smoothing Slider

This new little feature has been added to the Options Bar in Photoshop whenever the Regular Brush Tool, the Pencil Tool, the Mixer Tool or the Eraser Tool is selected. This Smoothing Slider filters out jittering in your paint strokes. The default setting is 10% and it goes from 0 to 100. There are a couple drawbacks to setting this slider too high. 1) It can really slow your computer down depending on the brush selected. 2) And there can be a big lag – by clicking on the little gear next to the Slider field, there are some options that can be chosen which controls this.

By default, the Stroke Catch Up (Enables paint to catch up when brush cursor movement is paused) and Adjust for Zoom (Automatically adjust smoothing amount to avoid jitter in low zoom percentages) are checked. Disable Stroke Catch Up and the paint application stops as soon as the cursor movement stops. In Adjustment for Zoom, if the Smoothing amount will be decreased if zoomed in, and increased if zoomed out. The Pulled String Mode (Enable paint application beyond the radius set by smoothing values. Use when sharp corners are desired.) creates a really large lag if Smoothing is set high. It paints only when the string is taut and outside the radius. Definitely experiment with this slider and drop-down settings to see what works best for you. To change the setting on the fly, press ALT and numerical number like 3 for 30%. To completely turn off Smoothing in the selected brush, go into the Brush Settings Panel and uncheck the Smoothing box. For you Painter folks, it is still not near as sophisticated as the Smoothing Panel in Painter (the slider appears to be very similar to the Damping slider), but it is definitely a step in the right direction. I personally think the default settings are fine for most brushes as it seems there is not much of a lag in most brushes. But when using your favorite painting brushes where a lag can occur as you stroke, definitely adjust the Smoothing setting and try the different Smoothing options. In the above image a Smoothing setting of 35 was used and the default options.

Once again here is a short video by Julieanne Kost called Brush Stroke Smoothing and Paint Symmetry in Photoshop CC that goes into a really good explanation on these settings and shows some great examples.

Adding the new Kyle T Webster Default Brushes

Also, there is another little thing Photoshop added to the Brushes Panel – Kyle T Websters brushes are now most of the Default Brushes except for the round brushes. Many new brushes that can be explored here. To get to them, need to go to the pop-out in the Brushes panel and select Restore Default Brushes – they will not override the ones already in the list, but will add 4 new groups of brushes (General Brushes, Dry Media Brushes, Wet Media Brushes and Special Effects Brushes) – only the General Brushes are ones from before. If you want all brushes from CC2017, in the pop-out select Legacy Brushes – all of them will be appended and put in original category types groups. There is also a set called Convert Legacy Tool Preset brushes (some of you may not have known the Tool Preset Brushes were there – many of them are very nice brushes so check them out.) that can be appended to your brushes.

It appears to me that Adobe is beginning to phase out the Tool Presets and the Preset Manager. If you are interested to learn more on Photoshop CC2018, check out Adobes Information Page or a longer video by Jesus Ramirez at the Adobe Training Channel called Photoshop CC 2018 Tutorials – What’s NEW in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018. Well I think I am about talked out here. Lots of other new things to explore in Photoshop. Have a nice busy weekend catching up!…..Digital Lady Syd


GET INSPIRED USING YOUR FAVORITE TEXTURES

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!


SOME FLOWER POWER

Digitally painted image of flower on a purple backgroundJust doing a quick post this week. Thought I would pass on just a couple thoughts on doing a digital painting. I find that when I am painting that either the Color Panel (set to Hue Cube – click the pop out in upper right corner to see other options) or Coolorus is open on the left side of my screen so colors in the same color palette can be selected very quickly by just clicking in the color areas. Coolorus is an inexpensive add-on for Photoshop CS6 and up. The Color Wheel  and the Mixer section Swatches, Color History, and Shades & Tones strips are all kept open so all you do is choose a color you want by clicking in it with your brush. For painting with the mixer brushes, the Current Brush Load needs to be set to Load Solid Color Only in the drop-down toggle menu. Then colors can be sampled using the ALT+click in the Mixer brushes also.

These are some of my favorite painting brushes I am using right now for most of my Photoshop painting. For this image the purple color was used as the major color and the rest of colors were mainly complementary greens. First started out with a purple background color – used a new Paint Bucket Tool preset by Grut (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) called FI Paper Deeds. On a layer above just drew a rough sketch of the leaves using Grut’s I Qwillo brush (one of my favorite drawing brushes!). Then painted in the leaves underneath using Gruts NM Pans Attic and OI Shiff Din brushes – made the brushes much smaller and just kept blending the colors using both brushes. The white flowers were painted in using my SJ 3 Pastel Van Gogh TI1 brush (see below for settings) and turned off the Color Dynamics sections to paint in centers. My sharp line texture png was added underneath and some green grass with flower were added that I had painted previously. Then a stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Impression 2 where Rembrandt Portrait II preset was applied a little. Then on a New Layer the fence was drawn, Jai Johnson’s flying birds png was added and set to 23% layer opacity. Two text layers were created – one used Castile Inline Grunge font and the other a font called Chiller. Used one of my painted borders created a long time ago. Some little spatter marks were created using Grut’s FX Flick Tub brush. A purple light leak I created a while back was added to the right side of the image and one of Sebastian Michaels borders was added on top. Finished up the photo with Nik Viveza 2, and a Red Channel Luminosity Adjustment Curve. See my Related Blogs for more info on some of the techniques used above.

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Digitally painted Purple-Pink FlowersThis digitally painted image above is using the same basic workflow as above. I used a couple different brushes on the flowers and leaves, but overall pretty much the same results. The major trick is to find a brush to remove some of the sketch work without losing the definition of the petal. I used a mixer on this one to soften those lines. The mixer brush layer was lowered to add back in some of the texture in the leaves and blossoms. And definitely a lot of brush size variations to add detail versus smoothing. Underneath all the painting and sketch layers, Kim Klassen’s Dream texture (not sure it is still available) was added and set to 46% layer opacity (on top of a white background layer). The frame is from one of my Double Edged Frames layer styles that can be downloaded on DeviantArt.  Lots of fun but it does take some time to get a nice overall effect. My sketches were so rough looking it is amazing to me that it all pulls together.

Have a nice week and try a little illustration even if you are not that great at it. It is a lot of fun to try different Photoshop brushes and see what turns out……Digital Lady Syd

Brush Settings for SJ 3 Pastel Van Gogh TI1 brush: To make your own, follow my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog but with a couple important changes. First a small square was selected using the Marquee Tool showing a part of the plant Impression layer that showed some nice contrast and brush strokes in it. It was turned into a Pattern by going to Edit -> Define Pattern and name it. (I named mine TI Van Gogh). Next the Brush Panel Texture section was opened. Select the Pattern drop-down (little arrow on right side of pattern swatch) and go to the very bottom where the new Pattern is located. The setting for the pattern I created are: Scale 46%, Brightness -46, Contrast 34, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Color Dodge, Depth 38% and Depth Jitter 12%. Try adjusting all these settings to fit your particular pattern. This brush gives a nice stroke effect at both larger and smaller sizes. Then open the Color Dynamics section and check Apply per Tip, set the Hue Jitter to 2%, and Brightness Jitter to 11%.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create My Favorite Brush
How to Create Scanned Photoshop Brushes
How to Create Light Leaks to use Over Again
How To Make Frames or Borders
How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect