Anything Photoshop or Photography

Photoshop Brushes


Painted lady's image from Unsplash by Roksolana ZasiadkoThis week still having some summer fun. Have not been painting that much recently, so I decided to share a couple little things I am learning. Since I have been playing around with faces and portraits a little (Lisa Carney reruns have been on Creative Live recently and she is the best retoucher), I thought I would attempt a little painting in Photoshop. The above image was taken from a beautiful photo at Unsplash by Roksolana Zasiadko. First the image has to be cleaned up and the subject put on its own layer using some sort of selection process. I could not get her hair extracted properly in PS, even with a little “channel pulling” (using the channel with the best contrast to make a selection) to make the selection, so I improvised by doing using the Select and Mask command before painting in the missing hair. Then lots of layers of painting and retouching on the face . I cannot tell how important it is to develop a set of brushes for this type of work. So for example, I used the brush that was in my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog using a very small size to paint in the eyelashes. David Belliveau’s mixer brush was used to smooth skin. (A link to his free brushes are with his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog.) To add the hair, one of Aaron Blaise’s Lion Leopard Fur Brush was used at a large size. It worked amazingly well by just sampling lighter and darker colors. Added one of my orange light leaks (one I created using my How to Create Light Leaks to use Over Again blog) to the right side to lighten it up and give a sunny feel. One of my Corel Painter textures was used as a background. On the top a layer used one of 2 Lil’ Owls (for website, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Creative Masks set to Screen blend mode at 31% layer opacity for a little detail effect on the side. Just a lot of experimenting with brushes and effects. If you have a great photo to start with, it is not that hard. Still, it takes a lots of practicing to get the digital look  just right – hope to spend some more time on this this summer!

Image of painted coleus plants in my yardI discovered that using Topaz Impression2 to help your digital art is just fine, and then take art to the next level with your painting. This shot of a coleus plant was taken in my front yard – they grow almost like weeds once planted, but they are so pretty, and there are lots of pattern varieties. It took quite a bit of clean up to get to a point where the painting could begin. The plants were selected and placed on their own layer – much easier than the portrait with the hair above. Then the selected object was taken into Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) Impression 2 was opened and my SJ Van Gogh Painting Start preset was applied – can be downloaded in the Topaz Community by searching for sj space. (These are the settings if choose to use: Started with Van Gogh II preset and made these changes: Stroke Type 01, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.13, Paint Volume 0.20, Large Brush Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.81, Stroke Rotation 0, Rotation Variation, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.68, Stroke Length 0.58, Spill 0, smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Saturation 0.17; Lighting Brightness 0.09 and Contrast -0.04; and no Texture.) For this image, the Orange, Aqua, and Green Colors were also adjusted. Next Jai Johnson’s Daily Textures Explorations 10 was added underneath and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was set above to get the background colors.

Several new layers were painted using my SJ 3-Pastel-Van Gogh TI1 brush – this is a brush I created just for painting this type of image. 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%. (It was used on the hair in a few places on the top image.) This is the only brush used in the Coleus picture and basically I dabbed around on each leaf to get the look I wanted. And since the image is a composite, the plant edges were painted over slightly using the brush at a little larger size and sampling the background color all around – this blends the edges much better so it does not look like you just popped the plant on the background. To finish off, another texture from Jai called Be My Valentine was added on top – it was set to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity.  Another Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture (ALT+click between layers) to set the color correctly. Finally finished off with a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and a Levels Adjustment Layer to get the final tone and color correction.

Well it may sound like a lot of work, but I am finding using the new brush is very nice for painting, with no change of pattern. I did notice after several attempts to get the correct feel to this image that using a texture that matches the painting style being used is very helpful. And I was surprised how easy it was to get nice hair effects by creating your own hair. Until next week, have a good one – I hope to try a little more experimenting with these techniques……Digital Lady Syd


Creative Text imageThis week I am just taking it easy and playing around with some text and images. Sometimes you just have to let the creative side play and see what happens! Anyway, this is how Digital Lady Syd takes a break! I just can’t get away from Photoshop! I do not usually use other individuals’ images, but for practice it is great – I do not see me getting to these beautiful mountains soon! There are many resources today if you would like to try a few new things.

In the image above a text layer was placed in a new document – the font used was from a CD bought years ago by Cosmi called 04, a fabulously fat font. The Create Warped Text icon on the Options Bar was double-clicked and in the Warp Text dialog, a Style called Arc Upper was selected with a Bend of +50%. A Stroke Layer Style was set to a Size 7 px, inside set to Color white. The Default Drop Shadow was added. Some splatter brushes from French Kiss (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) were used above and underneath the text to add the crazy effect. A Pattern Adjustment Layer using a lace pattern was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to add a lacy effect in some of the strokes. (The Pattern used was a black and white lace texture from a set redheadstock at DeviantArt called Lace Photoshop Patterns.) The SS-Groping 1 Flying birds are also from redheadstock and set to 73% layer opacity. One of my painted textures was placed on the bottom and a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to desaturate it. On a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was applied using the Snow Cover II preset with a few adjustments to the Color and Tone sections. The lower text font was called Berlin Sans FB Demi. On a layer above the text, Grut’s FX IL Bottle Topple brush from his terrific Inky Leaks Splatter brushes was applied to slightly cover the text – set to 64% layer opacity (and do not forget to look for his free brush of the week – it is a great way to get introduced to his big selection of brushes).

Digital art image a pretty modelThe original of the woman shows her standing in the middle of some orange colored leaves – I think she looks like a princess! (See Kuoma Stock Haunted 13 for original image at DeviantArt.) The woman was extracted from the background using the Select and Mask Command. Another one of my painted backgrounds was added and a couple layers of splatters were added behind the girl. Color was added to her face and nails and hair added into the image. On a New Blank Layer heart brush was created from the Custom Shape Tool (in Options Bar select the Heart Shape and set the 2nd button to Shape; go to the Paths Panel and click the Create a Selection icon at bottom; go back to Layers Panel and fill selection with black by ALT+Backspace to fill; with Marquee Tool, select the black Heart and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name Heart). Settings for the brush are: Brush Panel’s Brush Tip Shape Spacing 25%; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 93%, Control Pen Pressure, Angle Jitter 12; Scattering Both Axes, Scatter 1000%, Count 1, Count Jitter 0; Color Dynamics Apply Per Tip, Foreground to Background 8%, Hue 7%, Sat Jitter 2%, Brightness Jitter 7%, and Purity -36%; Transfer Opacity Jitter 20% and Flow Jitter 32% and Smoothing on. Two New Blank Layers were used to add in different colors (white and light pink) hearts – one layer’s Layer Style ws opened and set to Bevel and Emboss to add a little texture to some of the hearts. Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and the Breaking Down preset was applied with the Spot Mask used to remove effect from her face. Duplicated the layer and opened up the Corel Painter plug-in (I am still using the old version) – the Flame brush was selected and pink and light color flames were painted just for fun. The old frame is from the Scrapbooker itKuPilli and is in a set called Amazing Grapes (could not locate). The font with the hearts is called Fiolex Girls. On top 2 Lil’ Owls Color Bokeh Grunge Set texture 4 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar – this is one of my favorite sets) was applied and set to 38% layer opacity.

Wintry image of Fur TreesThis is also a wonderful Unsplash photo by Johannes Plenio called Winter. I got a little carried away post-processing this image until it was brought to my attention that it looked like a raging forest fire – I thought it was an incredible sunset! (See below.) Just an example of good intentions that turned into not so good post processing. Anyway, just a little tweak from Topaz ReStyle and now it is a beautiful wintry image. So most of the dramatic changes were done in the new Topaz Studio using Sharpen, Radiance, Color Theme, Texture and HSL Color Tuning sections (I created a preset called SJ Forest Landscape in the Community if you have downloaded the plugin and would like to try it out). For more info, see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog. This created the sunset look, but also created the nice sharp tree trunks and edges. Back in PS, two Curves Adjustment Layers were used to adjust the RGB curve for contrast, and then the Color using the individual Channel Curves. Next a Levels Adjustment was applied as it just looked good. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer adjusting the color contrast sliders just a little and then set to Luminosity blend mode. And finally a Selective Color Adjustment Layer adjusted the Yellow color so the little tree on the left showed up better – set the layer mask to black (CTRL+I inside the mask) and painted back just the tree. 5 New Blank Layers were added and set to Overlay blend mode and with a soft round brush, various areas were highlighted with white, yellow, and sky colors. The layer opacities were reduced to taste. It was now a raging fire image! Oh my gosh! Okay, here is a small image so you get the idea and see how powerful ReStyle can be.

Fiery Image of Fur TreesQuickly Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Snow Cover II preset (once again) was applied with very few changes – just a few Tone and Detail changes. It was amazing how this preset was able to transform the image. In PS a New Blank Layer was added and Grut’s FX IL Dry Grit brush was used from his set above and snow was painted lightly on the trees. My free SJ Snow2 Overlay slight Blur was added at 75% layer opacity to give some nice snow effect. The Shadowhouse Creations Snow Overlay 11 (his resources are the best!) was added to give a little more snow dimension – it was set to Screen blend mode at 70% layer opacity. The last step added Matt Kloskowski’s vignette (see my Fun Photoshop How to Create a Subtle Vignette Blog.)

Hope you got a few ideas with this sort of lazy Summer Day Blog – have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of three Roseate Spoonbill babies with Mom at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryA couple years ago this info was presented, but I feel it is an important topic – creating a reliable brush that will work most of the time. This brush is my SJ Pastel 3-painting brush, my “go-to brush” for cleaning up an image such as filling in spaces, cleaning up uneven edges, painting small places in layer masks, and adding in some texture where needed. This does not mean I do not use other brushes, I am a major Photoshop brush collector. But this brush is used to do all the little clean up and detail work that almost every image, whether a realistic photo image as above, or a more artistic creation, will require. The image of a Roseate Spoonbill family was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, a very noisy place at this time of year. I loved the bird expressions but it was difficult to get the birds to show up – they actually were nestled back in a tree and the light was very dappled and harsh. The brush created described below was used extensively to get in close to clean up the edges and even out some of the color. By sampling nearby colors and setting the brush in the Options Bar to 67% Brush Opacity, and adjusting the Flow as needed, it turned out to be quite useful. Need to experiment a little and I think you will get some good results with this brush. Another good image example that used 7 clean up layers with lots of sampling and painting is The Mighty Bat Flower from my recent Tidbits Blog.

My Favorite Brush

I have changed this brush only a little over the last 3 years to get what I consider is a really nice stroke effect. Here is the link to download the basic brush from a free set by Stacy David Wallingford at DeviantArt’s SDWHaven Pastel Brushes.abr to be used both personally and commercially. Photoshop makes it really easy to add these brushes to the Brush Preset list – first open up PS, then double click on the .abr file that was downloaded – they pop into the bottom of the brush list. The brush used is his Brush 11 at the very bottom of the list.

Open the Brush Panel by clicking F5 (or with the Brush Tool selected, choose the third icon over on the Options Bar at top) and make the following changes to the brush – be sure to click on the underlined word so it opens up the dialog for each section, except Smoothing which does not have settings.

Brush Tip Shape:
Size: It opens up at a huge 2130 px brush! The size was changed to 8 pixels. I like to use a small size for clean up, but this can be easily adjusted, when needed, like to add texture to an area.
Angle set to 137 degrees – change by dragging the arrow in the circle or adding in the Angle field
Roundness is 100% – can drag the little dots in the box to make tip elliptical
Spacing is 35%

Shape Dynamics:
All are set to 0 and Off except Angle Jitter slider set to 42% – this gives a slight variation of stroke effect, especially on the edges

Texture (which is really a pattern):
Uses the Rough pattern located in the free PS pattern set that come with the program called Erodible Textures. To load pattern, click on the little down arrow next to the texture window in the top of the panel, then press the little cog wheel that opens up drop-down menu. Select the Erodible Textures in the list which contains the last 8 textures in pattern list. Select Append in dialog box. See screenshot below and select the blue highlighted pattern called Rough.
Screenshot of Pattern panel in PhotoshopSelect Rough pattern
Scale is 87%
Brightness is -45
Contrast set to 0
Check Texture Each Tip
Mode is Multiply
Depth is 50%
Depth Jitter was set to 1%

Smoothing check box is turned on – it has no settings.

Be sure to save the brush as a Brush Preset by clicking on the Create New Brush at the bottom of the Brush Panel and Brush Preset Panel – it will appear at the bottom of your brush list. I personally saved the brush as a Brush Tool preset so that the Options Bar settings are also preserved which are set to Opacity 67% and Flow 100%. To do this, in the first icon on the Options Bar, select the little down arrow – click the Create new tool preset icon under the cog wheel icon and name your brush. It will always appear in the Tool Presets when the Brush is selected with the additional settings.

To add more texture into the brush, change to a different Texture pattern. I like the Guaze pattern which gives a hatch effect (it is located in the PS Artist Surfaces pattern set) to use for an interesting background effect – it especially looks good in a Mixer brush for both blending and adding color. Adjust the Scale, Brightness and Contrast sliders and change the Mode – watch the Brush Preview at bottom of Brush Panel to see what the changes are doing to the brush stroke. And of course try changing the Spacing in the Brush Tip Shape section and adding Scattering can result in an interesting brush to use. Check out my related blogs below for more info on saving and changing brushes.

I hope you will try the brush – it is pretty easy to create and with just a few tweaks, it works very nicely. And try using a different brush that has a different dab tip with the settings and see if you get an even better brush. I still use a soft round brush a lot, and many of my Grut Brushes (get a free brush to download every Monday) are other favorites, especially his Cloud and Inky Leaks Splatter brushes. But I still return to this stand-by of a brush for most of my clean up – it is always at the top of my brush list. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Save Your Favorite or Newly Created Brushes
Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!
What Does the Flow Slider in the Options Bar Do?
How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up


Image of an egret at Sea World OrlandoRecently I purchased a video class called Quick & Easy Digital Painting Like a Professional by Kristen Palana from Udemy. Not sure how often I will use the technique, but it was a lot of fun. The image above was taken during a show for the seals at SeaWorld Orlando a few years ago. This was actually a live egret walking along the fence. Kristen’s techniques create an underpainting layer, a regular painting layer, a drawing layer, and an effect layer, at a minimum. She tells you what brushes to use and how to paint the layer effects. On the above, all of her steps were not followed, but it has her illustrative look to it. On the Spoonbill image (from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery) below, I tried to follow all the steps. I still do not quite get similar results, but I did learn a few new painting techniques and created a couple new brushes to use for my own style. She does supply an image to work along with her and that was very helpful. I like to try out the different procedures as they are presented. Overall it was a lot of fun to do. The Spoonbill image also used on top French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) texture Atelier Canvas Overlay set to Vivid Light blend mode and 37% layer opacity to get the canvas effect, and a Matt Kloskowski vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog).

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryYou may not be a professional after trying this tutorial, but good results can be obtained with a just a little effort. The instructions are not too difficult to understand, and if you make the brushes as she explains, the images end up with a nice illustrative feel to them. Kristen’s technique is great for illustrating books. I thought the postcard effect was kind of nice. The process seems to create a little vintage feel in the images. One thing I learned is that by using a drawing layer, many areas of an image can be emphasized or short-comings on the painting can be diminished. This will be useful for all types of painting techniques. On the Spoonbill, the line drawing effect was greatly reduced but on the top image, it had more of an emphasis. If you want to have some plain ole’ painting fun, this is a nice little video. Watch Udemy’s website as they often have big savings on their videos – it is a great place to pick up all kinds of Photoshop and Photography instruction. Hope everyone in the US is having a great holiday – see ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd


View from Stirling Castle in ScotlandJust another quick post to pass on a pretty nifty short tutorial that Chris Spooner at Spoon Graphics posted this week. It is called How to Create a Water Painting Effect in Photoshop and it was pretty easy to follow. I have tried it out on a couple different images using different paper, painting brushes, and a few different filters after applying the ones he suggested. Since a Smart Object is created to get the base effect, images can be swapped out without changing the rest of the set up or border once created.

This image is one I took from Stirling Castle in Scotland. After applying the filters and adding a layer mask, a border was created using the McBad Brush 30 that Chris links to in his post for creating the watercolor effect border. In the Brush Panel, try changing the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of the brush to something pretty high like 70% to get some nice edge work on the border. For this image, a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer (with the Paper border layer turned off) was created on top of the layers but underneath the border paper. Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression 2’s Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset was applied and set to, of all things, Division blend mode at 0.50 opacity. It gave the image more of an overall watercolor effect. I think many of the Impression presets would work well with this technique. A New Layer was added and using Grut I Dusty Covet Brush, lines around the tops of the buildings were sketched in to add a bit of realism and definition to the roofs – then lowered the layer opacity to 80%. On another stamped layer (with the paper layer off) Topaz ReStyle was applied – this time I had a preset created a while ago, but there were probably 20 presets that looked good on it. It seemed to even out the colors that in the final image. To give the image a real watercolor look, Grut’s W Mud Puddle Watercolor Brush was used to extend out the edges of the image into the border with strokes and paint in some solid roof colors and tree areas. As a side note, Nicolai at GrutBrushes has some really good things going at his brush site: a free brush every week (I definitely take advantage of this as different media brushes are presented), a free Photoshop Brushes Sampler with lots of nice brushes and a free Watercolor Brush called Cherry Pectin that is also in the sampler. The Cherry Pectin brush would have worked great for painting border edges also. I think this made a huge difference from the slightly canned look the original tutorial supplied. The image was way too vivid for my taste as a watercolor, so a New Layer was filled with white above and set to 16% layer opacity to calm it down a bit. The last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the orange buildings in the lower left corner and the painted bridge.

Well, still taking it easy but wanted to share – hope you get a chance to try out this technique. Chris Spooner has several nice tutorials on his site you might also like. Later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Painting Effects from Actions-Part 1
A Little Watercolor Fun


Image of King James V at Stirling Castle, ScotlandThis week I am presenting a little tutorial on how to add an interesting an painterly or artistic effect to your images. This technique goes hand-in-hand with the use of other creative filters, but is a great way to add a personal touch to those canned filters results. The image above is from Stirling Castle (completion date cc 1542) where the face of the palace is lined with statues. This statue is thought to be King James V of Scotland in yeoman attire as he wandered incognito among his subjects and calling himself the Gudeman of Ballengeich (tenant farmer of Ballengeich, a place near Stirling).

This technique comes from a really nice tutorial by Sebastian Michaels who is a total genius when it comes to using Photoshop. Several years ago he created a video called Custom Brush Technique at Light Stalking where he discussed several different ways of creating brushes. He made a grunge brush that he used to paint in an effect similar to the above. I took a little liberty here and downloaded similar brushes to create some of my effects.

What is shown here is how to add a white layer with a layer mask – by painting with black in the layer mask with unique and textured brushes, a very artistic result can be achieved. The steps are as follows:

  1. Adjust photo and on a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), add in any special effects such as filters.
  2. To add even more variety to the image, copy the duplicated layer from Step 1 and add adjustments layers, filters such as Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression or ReStyle, or go to Image ->Adjustment->Hue/Saturation (not an Adjustment Layer) set to colorize to change the overall color of the image. My image was turned into a bluish colorized look on the original filter layer, but could have been done on another duplicated copy.
  3. Add a New Layer on top and fill it with white (can go into Edit->Fill and Content: White (SHIFT+F5), or just change the color swatches to default Black/White (D) and press CTRL+BACKSPACE to fill with white (FYI: ALT+BACKSPACE fills with black).
  4. Add a Layer Mask to this layer (2nd icon from left at bottom of Layers Panel).
  5. Using several different brushes in the layer mask, build up the effect. Set the brushes to 20-30% only and change the rotation of the brush with each tap down. It is easiest to do if the Brush Panel is opened and set to the Brush Tip Shape section. Flip the little circle around to set the stroke so edges appear different when painted in the mask. Also, can right click in the Options Bar the Brush Preset Picker (2nd icon) to change the rotation and size quickly. Start by adding a bit of vignette feel on the edges. If you want the brush to rotate randomly with each stroke, can ago into the Shape Dynamics section and set the Angle Jitter to some amount – I use 19% on many of my brushes. Look at the Preview field to see what the effect will be when changes are made in the Brush Panel.
  6. If the layer was duplicated and more than one filter or effect was created (as in Step 2), also add a layer mask to all these layers and paint out parts so the original color of the image shows through. This gives a nice split tone look.

To get an interesting effect, try grunge brushes, splatter brushes for the edges, and soft round or smaller sized textured brushes to paint back any important details. Different sizes, rotations and opacities of brushes really vary the effect. And remember the Properties Panel can be used to adjust the layer mask opacity if the final result is too strong. The actual layer blend mode and opacity can be adjusted also. Lots of flexibility can be found here.

The above followed Sebastion’s steps from his video pretty closely including using Photoshop’s Filter Gallery to create a watercolor effect (Watercolor filter – Brush Detail 9, Shadow Intensity 1, Texure 2; and  Crosshatch filter – Stroke Length 9, Sharpness 6, Strength 1). This was added to the layer first before the Hue/Saturation Colorize effect was applied. Then the White Layer was placed on top. Three different types of brushes were used on both layer masks: a grunge brush (Shadowhouse Creations’ Grunge Brush Set 2-G4 brush), a grunge brush made using a texture somewhat like Sebastian’s, and Grut FX IL Ratatatsplat brush (from his wonderful Inky Leaks Splatter set) was used for the edge effect. Finished up with Nik Viveza 2 to just pull the eye into the statue area and lightly lighten the face.

Image of BlueberriesThis blueberry image used the same workflow. It does not seem as if adding a white layer on top would make much of a difference here, but it actually did. It lightened the image overall before bringing in the color from the layers below and can add some beautiful texture with the right brushes. For this image, Topaz Impression was opened and one of my presets was applied called SJ WC like effect on bldgs (see end of blog for settings). On a duplicate layer, an Image->Adjustments>Hue/Sat-Colorize was set to Hue 46/Sat 27/Lightness +2 – a gold sepia tone. The color did not look right so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between the layers) and changed to a more pink color. This layer was set to 33% layer opacity. Brushes used in white top layer mask and the Impression and Colorized layer masks were:  SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter (see end of blog on how to create this brush-one of my favorites as it adds just a touch of texture to the stroke at a small size and nice splatter brush at larger size) at 25% br opa and 502 px and rotated around edges; Shadowhouse Grunge GB-4 again at 1200 px and rotated around center; and ABlaise-Canvas Texture Br 46 32-350px (this brush added some nice texture into the image). The brush sizes and rotation were varied in each mask. Topaz ReStyle’s Zambezi Zest preset was used to get the French vineyard colors in the image. (Settings: ReStyle Opacity 62% and Soft Light blend mode; Color Style Primary 0.58; and Lum Primary 0.47; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Temp 0.22, Tint 0.34, and Sat 0.08; Tone Black Level -0.14, Midtones 0.03, and White Level -0.39; and Detail Structure -1.00 and Sharpness 0.63; and Masking – with Strength set to 0.36, painted out the green leaf at bottom and the berries to give more detail in just those areas.) Finished up with the standard Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and Nik Viveza 2 to bring out the focal points.

Image of Urquhart Castle in ScotlandHere is another example of how this technique could be used. This is an image of Urquhart Castle in Scotland on a very rainy day. Topaz ReStyle was applied using the exact same preset and settings from the blueberry image. Then a white layer was added on top with a mask. The Castle image was painted back in using the same brushes as above or the newly created Grunge Brush, the SJ 1 Color-Paint fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush (settings below) and once again Aaron Blaise’s Texture brush – his textured brushes really help with this effect when used in a layer mask. The layer was set to 35% layer opacity. On the ReStyle layer, a layer mask was added and parts of the trees and castle were painted out so the original image color showed through. At the top a New Layer was added and filled with a light gold-yellow color. A layer mask was added and once again the image was painted back using the same Grut-FX IL Ratatatsplat for the edges and my SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur brush at a small size for the detail areas. This layer was set to Linear Dodge (Add). To get the final effect, the Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer. In the Blend If sliders, the Underlying Layer black tab was split (by holding ALT and pulling the tab apart) and setting it to 10/70. This does not always work, but it definitely worth trying out to see what happens. In this case it brought out the structure more clearly. Nik Viveza 2 was used to pinpoint the focal point which is where the red umbrella is located. Anyway, just note that you are not limited to a white color top layer or using just one color layer. With a little experimenting, a very nice image can be produced. I believe I will use the above image on note cards.

Hope this gives you another little trick to try in your artistic endeavors and maybe it will give your images that extra level of interest it needs. And try out my brush – I am finding it is very useful in lot of different types of images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Topaz Impression’s SJ WC like effect on bldgs Settings: Thought I would share the preset settings as it really does give some interesting results sometimes with a little masking when looking for creative effects. The preset was made in Topaz Impression 1:  Started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0. Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones. These changes  were made to the preset in Topaz Impression 2 for the blueberry image: Number of Strokes High; Color Aqua Sat 0.25 and Lightness 0.51; Lighting Highlight 0.40, Shadow -0.39; and Texture Strength 0.

SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush has become a favorite brush for all kinds of things. With these brush settings, it is great to paint animal skin but it works great wherever a little soft edge with subtle texture is needed. It is my go-to clean up brush when color needs to be added to fill in some rough spots. Here are the settings: First download these free brushes from Alex Dukal – Adobe Sketch Brushes and select AD Sketch Splatter – 143 px brush. This brush had the brush tip I liked but most of the brush settings were changed. Here are the Brush Panel settings as I use the brush: Brush Tip Shape – Size 9 px, Angle 13 degrees, Roundness 100% and spacing 120%; Shape Dynamics – only the Control field was set to Pen Pressure (for tablet use); Scattering – check Both Axes, Scatter 149%, Count 9, and Count Jitter 54%; Transfer – only the Opacity Control field was set to Pen Pressure, and Smoothing checked. Be sure to create a Brush Preset and a Brush Tool Preset (1st icon on the Options Bar – open the drop down and click the Create New Preset icon – this saves the Options Bar settings). Adjust and paint with different sizes. Can add Texture and Color Dynamics for different look. Also Dual Brush can be interesting. I use this brush sometimes as small as 4 px to clean parts of an image by sampling adjacent colors. Try out the original brush provided as it is a really nice splatter brush.


Image of the Video Arcade Sign at the Magic KingdomThis week I watched an interesting short video by Chris Spooner of Spoon Graphics called Airbrushed Film Poster Effect so I decided to give it a try. The images in this blog are all the result of using of his steps or variations of them. This first image from Disney World follows most of his steps closely. I wanted to start by trying the actual steps to really understand how this effect is achieved. Also, I found it easier to understand what he is saying by turning on the closed captions for this video. Chris says this effect works best with darker low key photos with lots of details.

The basic steps are listed below, but I found some better ways to create some of these effect using Photoshop plug-ins from vendors as opposed to all the PS filters in this workflow. First off, the image needs to be in 8-bit Mode if using the PS filters so go to Image -> Mode -> 8 Bits/Channels. Chris starts with using the High Pass Filter set to a fairly low Radius and the top image used the filter with a Radius of 2 pixels. Chris used the Oil Paint Filter for the painterly effect on his image, but this just is not one of my favorites so the layer was taken into Topaz Impression 2 where Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset was applied. That is my only deviation from the workflow.

This next step is one that could be useful for other workflows. A RGB Luminosity Channel was selected by going to the Channels Panel and CTRL+clicking on the thumbnail to select the Highlights in the image. Once selected, changed to the Layers Panel. Copy and Paste (Edit -> Copy and Edit -> Paste) creates a new layer showing just the highlights on the layer. It is set to Vivid Light and the opacity is lowered. Then go to Select -> Reselect and create a New Layer. Fill selection with white using CTRL+Backspace if colors set to default black and white or Edit -> Select and set Contents to White. This layer was set to Soft Light blend mode. These steps really give an interesting look to the image and could be good for other types of effects.

This video used the Poster Edges in the Artistic Effects filter and set them to Edge Thickness 0/Edge Intensity 0 and Posterization 6 which adds dark lines into image. To get similar results for light lines, on a duplicate layer the color was desaturated (SHIFT+CTRL+U) and the Glowing Edges filter (Edge Width 1, Edge Brightness 2, and Smoothness 1) in the Stylize section was applied. It was set to Screen blend mode and the opacity was adjusted. The last few steps involved adding Noise by filling a layer with 50% Gray and than applying the Add Noise at 20% to give some grain to the image. Chris then added a tan paper texture on top and set it to Soft Light blend mode. For the above image, 2 Little Owl’s Color Bokeh Grunge Set No. 6 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) was used to get the grungy effect.

The process is a bit tricky as there are a lot of things going on, but once attempted, you can see how to make the image look more like that airbrushed effect in posters.

*****Image of Native American demonstrating Horn PlayingThe above is of Jim Sawgrass, the Master of Ceremonies at the Ormond Beach Native American Festivals, who gives excellent talks on the traditions and lives of Native Americans throughout the country. It was my second attempt to get this poster effect and several workflow steps were changed to get this result. For starters this man was selected from the original image using PS Select and Refine Command – this works pretty well on rather detailed objects. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no longer available but I keep looking for it) to sharpen the image since this filter gives a nice poster feel, but Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail or Clarity could have been used. No painterly effect was used on this image. Same steps as above were then followed except the RGB Luminosity layer was set to Pin Light blend mode at 71% layer opacity instead of Vivid Light. No layer was desaturated (accidentally) but it turned out fine. Same PS filter settings. Jai Johnson’s Daily Textures Unpredictable (No. 6) was placed underneath the man and on top 2 Little Owl’s Color Bokeh Grunge Set texture with a layer mask added to paint back the player. Just some clean up was done after this. I went back and added Nik Color Efex Pro on this image after finishing the horses as the results really enforced the poster feel. Therefore, Bleach Bypass, Darken/Lighten Center, and Film Efex Nostalgic Film Type 7 filters were applied – used different opacities to get the effect.


Image of two toy horses from the Native American FestivalA similar workflow as above was used on this toy horse image also taken at the Native American Festival. This image looks even more like a Poster. After selecting the horses, to get the airbrushed effect Topaz Impression 2 was opened and the Painterly II preset was used. This preset seems to give a great slightly painterly feel that a poster requires. The white highlights layer was set to Color Dodge blend mode instead of Soft Light and was set to 74% layer opacity. The Poster Edges filter was applied with the Edge Intensity changed to 2. The Glowing Edges filter settings were changed to Edge Width 2, Edge Brightness 4, and Smoothness 3. These sliders can all be adjusted to get a needed effect. The grainy look needed to be applied so this time Nik Color Efex Pro 2 was opened and Film Efex: Vintage filter was applied and then the Bleach Bypass filter as it looked really good. The Nik filters really seemed to enhance the poster effect so try different ones to pop the colors especially. Another one of Jai Johnson’s Daily Textures Unpredictable 16 was placed underneath the horses.

There is a little trick here that I figured out to help add that poster look. On a New Layer on top, my SJ Pastel 3 brush was used to just lightly paint over some of the edges around the horses. It made some of the hard edges sort of fade into the image and by using a color that matched the background a little, it added to the overall painterly effect. This was done to a lesser extent to the Native American horn blower. For info on making this brush, see my How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-up blog.

If you like the airbrushed poster effect, this is a pretty good workflow and lots of options to make it look more like your own creation. Remember the results depend a lot on what the resolution and brightness of the image is at the beginning. I appreciate Chris Spooner sharing this type of workflow which is so flexible and gives everyone a chance to create the effect. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd

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