This 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.
*****The 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.
A 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
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
The Road to Hana
Just was not ready with a new technique but have been enjoying painting, so thought I would go over a couple little tricks I’ve learned that might help save you some time while digital painting. It can get pretty sophisticated once you figure out where the image is going. The above Photoshop painting is called Spring in the Swamp and contains 61 layers. Even if this is not exactly your type of painting or expression, maybe there are a few tips here that will speed up your image production.
My painting started with just a basic sketch of a stream before just adding some floral brush strokes. Over the last few months I have spent hours figuring out exactly what brushes work with my painting style and creating new ones as tool presets when needed. This results in lots of brushes that can be very cumbersome to have piled up in the Brush and Tool Panels in PS.
TIP No. 1: Create several groups of brushes and save them as Tool Presets so they can be opened up anytime you want to paint those effects.
For my paintings I currently use 6 major sections: At the top of my Tool Presets Panel (top left icon in Options Bar shows current tool selected) are the signature brushes and brushes used on an almost daily basis for all kinds of touch up on both photos and my paintings. The Tool Preset Picker (click the arrow beside the Tool Presets Icon to open) and click the little square icon with the corner folded up to create a New Tool Preset – name it Drawing Brushes section. Any regular brush can be used for this since it is not being used as a brush. It will be listed at the bottom of the Tool Preset list. I find that capital letters stand out really good. Now drag it into the spot needed above the described brushes for quick use.
The sections must be set up in the Preset Manager which can opened in a couple ways. To go directly to the Tool Preset Manager, open the Tool Preset Picker in the Options Bar and click on the top icon – a little cog wheel – in the drop-down, select Preset Manager. You will see not just the Regular Brush Tool Preset, but all kinds of brush tool presets – Mixers, Smudge, Burn, Dodge, Smudge, Erasers, etc. – the Regular Brushes have the paintbrush as an icon. Alternatively, go to the Brush Panel or Brush Picker Panel and click on the 2nd icon over at the bottom of each called Open Preset Manager. Once opened, the Preset Type is set to Brushes, not the Tool Presets, so open click on the little field to open a drop-down, and select Tools – it is now at the same place as described above. Now the brushes can be moved around by just dragging them. Also SHIFT+Highlight or CTRL+Highlight to move several brushes. Create sections by moving the header above each group to be used – i.e., Drawing Tools and then adding underneath the brushes as shown in the screenshot. Now select the Header and all the accompanying brushes and click Save Set. Once saved, the whole section can be deleted out of the Preset Manager and reloaded anytime this set of brushes is needed again. Very handy and a safe way not to loose these so important brushes if you paint. (For more info on this, check out my Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up! blog.) The 6 major sections that work for me are: my basic brushes at top, Drawing Tools, Landscape Brushes, Snow Tools, Fur Tools, and Spatter Brushes. Brushes I am trying out are at the bottom. At this point only the Regular brushes are kept in sections. If I switch to my Mixer Brushes in the Tool Presets, there are several more brushes but not as many so I have not divided them into sections, but rather just keep them grouped together for quick use.
TIP No. 2: Name the Tool Preset Brushes so you know what they are.
When I modify a brush that is from someone else, the tool or brush is renamed using my initials at the beginning and then using the original brush title – usually these brushes all have a unique dab types that I could not have created without the original creators help. Creating several of these brushes have been explained several other blogs so I will not go into that. For example the Drawing Tools are from various people and represent very different types of brushes for creating an actual drawing effect. In the screen shot above are many examples of the way my brushes are named.
TIP No. 3: Keeping all Tool Presets open.
If you do not have Check Current Tool Only checked, all the Tool Presets loaded will be shown. I do not do this as there are so many brushes in my Tool Presets, but many people save lots of time by opening leaving open the Tool Preset Panel (Windows -> Tool Presets) – then you can actually switch between tool types very quickly, like a particular Regular Brush and a Mixer or Eraser.
TIP No. 4: Use the Brush Picker to get back to the last 7 brushes used! Can be a major time-saver.
Once Photoshop removed the ability to create your own panels to access your favorite brushes quickly (original CC and CS6), it became a real problem to paint in PS. I was constantly going back to CS6. The Brush Picker now has this great little gem that can be indispensable for painting. The last 7 brushes used are displayed at the top – just note each time you change a size it will be listed at the top again under that size. What is so great is that if the size or something else is modified in the Brush Panel, by clicking on the brush icons at the top, these settings are retained as long as the icon is showing. If you clicked back on the brush in the Brush Panel, the settings would be lost. If you click on the settings in the Tool Preset, the brush will also reset. But if you press on the brush icon in the Brush Picker, the correct Brush Panel settings are retained. This can be helpful if you are switching back and forth a lot. The thing that you must be careful about is that the settings for the Options Bar do not change as the brushes are switched – this is just for Brush Panel modifications. So watch the brush modes, opacities and flows to get correct results. Not always useful, but can be a real time saver. Oh yes, same goes for the Libraries Panel – if a brush is placed in there it will act the same as the brushes in the Brush Panel. The Options Bar settings will not be retained. The Libraries Panel is another place to put your favorite brushes though.
TIP No. 5: Use the Mode Clear to erase on a layer when painting.
My friend Nicholai over at Grut Brushes is where I learned this tip (check out his website for some really great brushes and his free brush of the week). This can be handy to erase away an area using the same dabs of what you were painting. So for example, if you are painting clouds, set the brush to Clear to get a nice cut away when parts of the clouds need to be removed. Very handy!
TIP No. 6: Use the Blur Tool to quickly soften parts of a flower or tree or bird that is too sharp.
The Blur Tool was used in several places on the above – just create a New Layer and keep the setting at no more than 50% to get some nice controlled blurred strokes. This tool was not that good in previous versions (in CS6 it does not work that well), but it works great now.
Guess this is enough for this week. Hope you find the tips handy and time-saving! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
I ran across this little brush technique in Advanced Photoshop Magazine No. 81’s DVD (several years old) in a PDF called Photoshop Uncovered: Forgotten Features. This particular tip was by designer/illustrator Radim Malinic of Brand Nu. I am not sure I have completely mastered his technique yet, but it was fun trying to figure out how he uses it to create some really great art.
Exactly what does setting a brush to a Linear Dodge (Add) mode in the Options Bar do? According to Radim, “As the color dodges, the overall shade goes lighter with every brush stroke.” Usually he tries to stick to just one color for his image, so this was my goal in my blog images. His basic technique involves creating a colored image, then desaturating the image, adjusting contrast with a Levels Adjustment, and adding in background textures and shapes.
On a New Layer with any brush selected, the Options Bar was set to Linear Dodge (Add) mode, Opacity 30% and Flow no more than 30%. Choose a darker shade of any color wanted to dominate your image. As you dab, colors will become brighter each time a stroke is overlapped – be careful not to overdo this effect as it is easy to get carried away. A New Layer is needed to get the effect as a white background layer will not show any strokes. If the last dab is too strong, go to Edit -> Fade Brush Tool to reduce the effect and change the blend mode for a better look if needed. The bright linear dodge strokes can be seen in the plants and giraffe in the bottom image below.
The Tych Panel shows how I created this image. I was attempting to try and just use a nice color of green to do all the painting in this image. The upper left image is what was initially created using several layers and various colors! This involved adding the background textures and creating a group of layers that contained my plant brushes. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top. Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to get a nice tone – this was merged down (highlight both layers and press CTRL+E) so now my main image is black and white. It was set to 94% layer opacity – that is why there is some slight color showing in the image. Therefore, a white filled New Layer was placed underneath so the colors below did not show through.
Now the fun began. Just started painting using the Linear Dodge (Add) mode in the Options Bar at 30% Opacity and 30% Flow. A light green was painted over the image. A giraffe silhouette brush was added and a layer mask was used to put some of the plants in front of his legs. On a New Layer painted in with the green colors on the giraffe – see the variation of the colors as the brush is dabbed over the same areas. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between layers) to some layers to soften the effect so it blends in better with the plants. 12 more layers were created to paint in the different object using different brushes. I found that by varying the brush Opacity but not the Flow over 30%, the various shades of the color could be easily obtained. Also the layer opacity or Edit Fade command can be used if the effect is just too strong. To finish up, Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust the focal point and add a slight vignette effect for drawing the eye. I decided the green was overwhelming the image as seen in the bottom part of the Tych Panel. Therefore a bright dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added. It was set to Color blend mode at 35% layer opacity. This seemed to balance out the over green to a level I liked as shown in the top image.
The above is another example of using this same technique. It was first painted in color and then turned to black and white before creating a New Layer and using Linear Dodge (Add) brush mode to paint with a cyan blue color in the image again. This technique does take a bit of practice to get a good result, but I do see a possible use for this type of brush in doing a regular painting. It is nice to just emphasize a certain area in an object using this method – in fact several digital painters use this method for dodging their images. It has been fun to try and paint with a monochromatic color scheme. Definitely have to think about what the values are in your image. Hope you get a chance to experiment with this brush mode and come up with some interesting results!…..Digital Lady Syd
This is a pretty basic post on how to use a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer to add some subtle detail to image objects. This may be something you are already doing, but if not, give my short workflow below a try. A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was used on the flying birds in the digital painting above. The birds are a free download from Cheryl Tarrant – for download link and more image details, see Image 1 info at end of blog. Bird objects work well with Pattern Fills, but any painted strokes, text or objects placed on a layer by themselves will work. Below is the quick workflow and the rest of the blog goes into more detail regarding Patterns.
Workflow for Adding a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer
- Open up a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer above image by going to the bottom of Layers Panel and clicking on the Black & White circle icon (fourth one over) and select Pattern (third one down). By default the last pattern in your Pattern Picker list will be selected.
- Clip the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer to the one below by ALT+clicking between the two layers. (See below for more options.)
- Double click on the pattern to open the Pattern Fill Dialog and choose your pattern. (To add more patterns, click on cog wheel in the upper right corner – PS has packaged several sets that can be clicked on or add your own. See below.)
- Adjust the Scale slider and drag on pattern in image to get the location and size of pattern for the effect required.
- Set the blend mode and opacities for both the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer and the object layer below.
Difference Between Textures and Patterns and Where Patterns Are Used
A little background material here so you understand what a pattern is much less how to use it in a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer. In PS, a pattern is a fairly small file, often times repeated without edges (lots of tutorials out there on this), that can be added to an image in various ways. A texture is a much larger file usually using the .JPG file format. Textures are added in as a layer that goes over the whole image – can alter them with a layer mask and/or different blend modes and layer opacities. Since Patterns are much smaller in size, they are added to an image with PS tools, commands, layer styles or a Pattern Fill adjustment layer. Several tools have an option to add a Pattern like the Regular Brush Tool (and Stamp Tool, Smudge Tool, Dodge Tool, Burn Tool, and Sponge Tool) in the Brushes Panel Texture Section, the Spot Healing Tool, Pattern Stamp Tool, and the Paint Bucket Tool (who knew?). (Note: In the Brush Panel, the Texture section is really adding a Pattern from the Pattern Picker to add texture to the stroke.) Also the Rectangular Tool and all the tools grouped with it can use a Pattern when set to Shape – look in the Stroke drop down. The Edit -> Fill dialog with the contents set to Pattern gets some very cool pattern effects with the Script drop-down box. Layer styles using patterns are the Bevel & Emboss Texture subsection, Stroke Fill Type, and Pattern Overlay sections. Oddly enough, the PS filters do not appear to use .PAT pattern files (they use regular texture .PSD files instead). Just wanted everyone to know patterns are located in many places, and sometimes quite hidden places (and I might have missed a few), just in case a need arises and a different technique could be used.
Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer Dialog
My favorite method for using a Pattern is with the Fill Adjustment Layer. It does not have a lot of adjustment sliders (only the Scale can be adjusted but since it is its own layer, the blend mode and layer opacity can be adjusted. There is also a layer mask so the effect can be locally masked in or out. Very easy way to adjust the results. And perhaps best of all, it can be clipped (see next paragraph) to an object layer so only what is on the layer is affected by the pattern effect. That is how the birds above look like a natural brownish color instead of the original black silhouette object. Below is a screenshot of the Pattern Fill dialog that was used on the birds above.It can be seen that first Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (the indented layer) to the birds layer. There are several ways to clip a layer, but my preferred way is to hold down the ALT key and click between the two layers to link them together. Can right click on adjustment layer and select Create Clipping Mask; or go to the Menu and choose Layer -> Create Clipping Mask; or just press CTRL+ALT+G on the highlighted layer – all work equally well.
From the latest Photoshop Manual (can download as .PDF file) search for Pattern: “Click the pattern, and choose a pattern from the pop-up panel. Click Scale, and enter a value or drag the slider. Click Snap To Origin (button) to make the origin of the pattern the same as the origin of the document (pattern opens up set to upper left corner). Select Link With Layer if you want the pattern to move along with the layer as the layer moves (moves with object layer as it is moved in the Layers Panel). When Link With Layer is selected, you can drag in the image to position the pattern while the Pattern Fill dialog box is open.” I usually just select the pattern and set the scale here. The really important thing to know is that by dragging in the image, the pattern can be moved to make it look correct on your objects if the Link with Layer box is checked. The Create a New Preset seem useless since all the patterns are already loaded.
Any color of patterns can be used (although all patterns are added turned to black and whites for the Brush Tools Texture section since brushes only use black to white tones). Using the colorful patterns can give really nice results on objects like birds or rocks or text. The one used above was included in a free Obsidian Dawn’s Grungy Dirty Patterns set which I use all the time. Some other patterns I use a lot are 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut and Vintage Floral Patterns by flashtuchka. I tend to like patterns that show bright colors and contrast. Also watercolor patterns are very useful. Try some of the loaded PS patterns, but I do not use them much. To add the patterns into your list, open up the Pattern Picker and select the little pop-out wheel where it says Load. Now just go to where the patterns were saved and open them up. They will appear at the end of your pattern list. Click on Preset Manager to add, remove or change the order (just drag to move) of the patterns loaded. With the Pattern Picker open, the different patterns can be clicked on and a live preview on the image will be seen. For the above the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer Scale slider was set to 155%, then back on the actual layer, it was set to Normal blend mode at 67% layer opacity. The birds underneath were set to Normal blend mode at 45% layer opacity. The combination gave a really nice subtle bird effect.
Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer or Pattern Overlay Layer Style
There are a couple major reasons I like the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer. The Pattern Overlay Layer Style can do pretty much everything the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer does. But it is easy to run into problems with the other Layer Style sections that are applied on top of this section. It can block out the whole section being added. One advantage of the Layer Style is that the blend mode and opacity can be set for the actual dialog, then the adjustment layer’ blend mode and opacity can also be set. I find the Pattern Overlay section works well with text layer especially since strokes and glows can be added in easily. Note that you can use both a clipped Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer and a Layer Style on the bird layer to get extra effects. There is so much that can be done! Just remember that if you want to add a layer mask to the bird layer with a Layer Style on, be sure to check in the Blending Options section “Layer Mask Hides Effects.” Otherwise the masking will look bad.
I created this image to show how both Pattern Fill Layers and Pattern Overlay Layer Styles can be combined to get a really nice effect. Several of the plant layers used Pattern Overlay Layer Styles and many have Pattern Fill Adjustments Layers clipped to them. For example, the text layer applied both a Pattern Overlay and Drop Shadow Layer Style sections and a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to the text layer. For more info on this painting, check out Image 2 below.
How to Create a Pattern from Your Own Textures
This is probably the easiest part of this blog. I had several great textures I created and bought that would make good patterns. To convert them from a .PSD file or .JPG file to a .PAT file, go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Then name the pattern and it is placed at the bottom of your pattern list to use the next time the Pattern Picker is opened. If you are using PS CS5 or older, there is a Pattern Maker filter in the Other category that can be used to make patterns – not sure why Adobe removed it.
I hope you try this technique on your images. Adding a pattern to just a few strokes on a layer can add some real interest in an image – it does not have to be an object. I am finding I am using patterns more and more to get that extra level of creativity and blending that seems to be lacking in a lot of the original images I am seeing. Know this was a little long, but I hope this helps a little about how to do this!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: This started out as a spring image but finished up as the Last Snow before Spring. That is what I love about Photoshop, sometimes major surprises result! Most of this image was painted in Corel Painter, but many details were completed in Photoshop. This seems to be the only way I can paint. In Painter, mainly used John Lowther’s Landscape Collection brushes along with various Karen Bonaker and Melissa Gallo brushes – all three of these people are incredible digital painters! In Photoshop, 37 layers were created so lots of different brushes went into this image. Several of Grut’s FX Cloud brushes were used along with Seishido Biz Favytunic’s brushes (can’t seem to locate them now-older brushes) and Frostbo’s Grass Set2 brushes. Also used several of Melissa Gallo’s Photoshop brushes from her video class (incredible class BTW). The snow was added using a brush created by following Corey Barker’s Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video which teaches how to make a terrific snow brush. (See my How to Paint in a Snow Storm blog.) The snow appears a lot more natural to me now. Also the birds are from Cheryl Tarrant’s Distressed+Seasonal+Flock+Birds+Brushes set – Brush 05 – some of the nicest bird brushes around. The texture used was by Kim Klassen called Cool Grunge (not sure this texture is still available) and was set to Multiply at 29% layer opacity. My basic PS workflow was followed after creating all the detail layers. Used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle’s White Swan Feathers preset. Nik Viveza 2 to draw in focus, and some Curves Adjustment Layers to restore contrast.
Image 2: The Birds of a Feather image was first painted in Paintstorm Studio with each type of brush painted on individual layers – the image was eventually saved as a .PSD file for more adjusting in PS. In this case 13 different Paintstorm layers were created using several of my own brushes, some Double Brushes, Pens, and Multi Brushes and opened in PS. The bottom layer was one of my watercolor textures and two Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers were clipped to it – the first a light beige watercolor pattern set to 417% Scale and Normal blend mode at 91% layer opacity, and the second a Bobby Chiu Colored Paint Texture which was created from his video Building My Favorite Photoshop Custom Brush – it was set to 1000% Scale and Vivid Light blend mode at 25% layer opacity. The birds are on their own layer from Lisa Glanz called Flying Geese (could not find the download link) with a brown watercolor Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer attached. The text layer was added with a Pattern Overlay Layer Style using a bright watercolor pattern set to 265% scale and 39% opacity and a simple drop shadow. Then a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to this layer using a small yellow/orange/green small print pattern set to 417% scale and a layer opacity of 78%. The last step in this image used a Kyle T. Webster layer style called Fresh Fun set to 0 Fill and painted over the plants and birds to give a little extra texture effect.
For some reason I have been sort of fixated on how to create a nice wintry feel in an image without getting fake falling and unnatural looking snow. This week I will show a couple ways I use to create a more natural snow and piling up effect in my images. Its a lot in the brushes!
The image above is of a pretty red budded plant (unable to find the name in my resources) that was growing at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. In a short Corey Barker video called Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video, a fabulous brush was created to add the falling snow in exactly the places it needs to be. Corey gives very clear steps to creating this brush that uses PS Noise Filter, PS Gaussian Blur, a Levels Adjustment, and Gradient Tool to make the basic brush. Then changes are made in the Brush Panel to the Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Transparency, and Brush Tip sections. This brush was then saved as both a brush and Tool Preset – size is 1000 pixels. Corey uses this brush not for just snow but anywhere that particles are needed like fire sparks and rain effects.
Now to processing the image. Once some random flakes are added to the image, Corey suggested adding a subtle Motion Blur to the flakes (Angle 75 and Distance 11) which makes the flakes look more realistic without doing anything else. Add a New Layer and make the brush smaller (500 pixels) to build up more dense snow around the plant branches. The layer opacity can be controlled for each snow layer to give the effect wanted. Also layer masks can be added to remove flakes where unwanted. A stamped layer was placed on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Black & White Effects was opened. In the filter, the Local Adjustments brush section was used to bring back the color in the image where I wanted it. The filter’s Color Brush was used to paint in the red buds and using a lower opacity, the green leaves were painted in. This softened the background a lot but color could still be introduced – in PS the layer opacity was set to 76%. On a New Layer more snow was painted in using the smaller sized Particle Snow brush again. This is how the lower leaves show snow building up on the leaves. A basic Mixer brush was used on a New Layer to add dabs of white paint for snow – I used Fay Sirkis’s Pet Pastel Underpainting Highlight Photoshop brush (I can’t seem to locate a resource with her brushes right now). But any small sized Mixer brush (45 pixels) will probably work – in the Options Bar set the mixer combination field to Dry and turn on the Load the Brush After Each Stroke with the color set to the snow color and just paint in the snow. Next a text layer with some icicles hanging from the letters were added on layers above using the free Frostbo Ice Brush 01 for the icicles. The last step was a Levels Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast. I feel like this plant looks like it is in a “winter wonderland” and not a sunny Florida garden.
This image of the St. Johns Tower Entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle turned out to be lots of fun to convert to a spooky winter image. The original image was taken on a sunny day in August so it has definitely been winterized. First Topaz Clarity was used to sharpen the image overall. Then the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter, Topaz Glow, and Lucis Pro were all used to get a really sharp and correct image. At this point I was just trying out different plug-ins and this is what I ended up using. Now the snow was painted in. A free set of very basic star brushes was downloaded by KeReN-R on DeviantArt and 4 brushes were used to paint in a lot of the snow (Sample Brushes 4 – see next paragraph on how to adjust this brush, 6, 8, and 19). Also Grut’s FX Inky Leaks Bottle Topple and Romato brushes were used to give the wet slick look on the street and steps (many brushes in this set would make great snow brushes). This step was a lot of fun to do! At this point Corey’s Particle Brush could be used, but instead I took the image into Topaz Texture Effects 2 and used the Winter Day I preset which contains a snow texture. A Spot Mask was used on the entrance so it could be adjusted a little differently. Back in PS the layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur with radius set to 250 pixels to really blur the image. Then it was set to the Subtract blend mode. The same entrance area was painted out in a layer mask. This darkened the image down immensely. On a New Layer white was painted in the entrance and set to overlay blend mode. Another New Layer for snow was used and some snow effect painting around the doorway in front using the Grut Bottle Topple brush. On a stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to really pull out the lighting effect in the doorway and to darken down the on the street. There was a lot of trial and error on this image and I personally believe that is how to actually pull this look together.
I am using Sample Brush 4 in the KeReN-R Star Brushes a lot to get the nice piling up effect of snow. These settings were changed in the Brush Panel to get a really great snow smoothing and piling brush: In Brush Tip Shape: Change size from 773 px to 150 px and leave Spacing at 25%; check Shape Dynamics and set Angle Jitter to 9%; and leave all other settings alone. In the Options Bar turn on the icon next to the Opacity amount so pen pressure will increase or reduce the amount of snow added. This creates a really nice brush to build up snow in any image.
Above is an image I painted showing how a duck sees the beauty in his home during a light snow that we humans do not get a chance to appreciate. It was initially painted in Corel Painter by first adding a lot of the basic elements and grasses. Just enjoying painting at this point. Then the image was opened in PS and many more details were added. In this case the snow was painted in using Corey’s Particle Brush and the snow was built up using the Snow Build Up brush (sampled brush 4) and sampled brush 6. Many more plant elements were added along with the duck. Topaz ReStyle was used to change the color scheme from a warmer one to a color for a more wintry look. This is a good example of how to use these snow brushes when doing creative painting.
It is very handy to have the snow in brush format as opposed to a large vector overlay. I hope you will try creating these two basic snow brushes if you enjoy making wintry scenes. I am still experimenting with them, and trying out other brushes. I like the overall effect of these two brushes and am using them a lot to just add a little wintry effect to a cooler image. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I just felt like pulling together a little image so here is a little montage that uses several different media. I wanted a natural feeling to the image so I tried to use natural looking colors, textures and brushes to get the total effect. (For explanation of the difference between montage, composite, and collage, see my How to Create a Quick Montage blog.) Think I have a few new tips for this tutorial.
To do this type of image you need to create a selection. Selections were needed to create both the brushes used in this image and for adding the elephant and palm trees removed from other images.
Creating Brushes using Vectors or Objects
First a plant layer was created just because they looked pretty. These brushes were created from various vector flowers and plants collected from free sources on the internet. Try checking out Creative Markets and Design Cuts for some wonderful weekly free vectors. They also both have inexpensive sets that can be bought. Many scrapbook websites also have some great vector art that can be converted into brushes but be sure to check out the usage license. If you want a nice set to try the technique below on, download Frostbo’s 16 Aquatic Plants PNG Brush Set at DeviantArt to turn into nice brushes.
So how do you do this?
- First the object needs to be placed on its own layer. If the object is one layer with a solid color background, it can be selected by going to Select -> Color Range. Then select the background color and click the Invert box to select the object. Then press CTRL+J to put object on its own layer.
- All brushes are created using shades of black and white. Therefore set foreground/background to default colors – Black/White by pressing the D key.
- CTRL+Click on the thumbnails of the object layer to select it, then ALT+Backspace to fill the selection with a solid black color. Or to add a little variety to the image, on a New Layer paint over the selected areas with shades of gray to add some interest in the object. Or after selecting and placing on its own layer (CTRL+J), the Object can be converted to a black and white object by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Black & White Adjustment Layer – adjust sliders to get some interesting texture effects for the brush and say OK. Need to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top to create brush if using the B&W Adjustment Layer technique.
- Now select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and place around the Object.
- The last step is to go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. It will now appear at the bottom of the Brush Preset Panel.
Use this brush on a New Layers so the strokes can be adjusted, transformed, change blend modes, or whatever you want to do with the layer. I used Frostbo Aqua 12 to create a brush by selecting as above using a Black & White Adjustment Layer to leave in detail, and then changed the settings in the Brush Panel to the following: Brush Tip Shape – Size 400 px and Spacing 108%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 9% and Angle Jitter 3% with Flip X Jitter and Brush Projection checked; Brush Texture using a Cold Press Pattern chosen in the drop-down panel with the little arrow (this is a small black and white patterned texture – try different ones to get a look you like), Scale 150%, Brightness 28, Contrast -10, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, and Depth 100% (if no effect is seen from the texture, try changing the Mode like to Height, and the sliders – watch the Preview Panel for changes); Color Dynamics – Check apply per Tip, Foreground/Background Jitter 100%, Saturation Jitter 20%, and Purity -37; and Smoothing on. Use a couple of nice plant colors and give it a try. It gives a nice light and breezy floral effect. This brush was used to fill the middle area of the plants in the image above. Below is an example of what the brush looks like with a dark red and greenish tone and with black and white. If the stroke appears too light, change the blend mode of the brush to Multiply or Linear Burn in the Options Bar to darken it. These brushes may take a while to create one you like, but once you find one, it is so nice to have these to give your own unique feel to an image!
Using Quick Mask to Create Image Object Selections
Several different ways of selecting can be used , but I really like using the Quick Mask mode (the little icon located right under the foreground/background color icon on the Tool Bar or just press the Q key) when the object is not that large and not too complicated. When painting with a Regular brush, a selection will be created showing the red overlay which represents the selection. Just press Q again or the icon to exit and the selection will be seen as dotted ants. If your selection comes out wrong, double click on the icon and make sure it is set to Color Indicates Selected Areas. Of course there are many different ways to do selections, but this is my favorite for adding small objects. The elephant image was selected this way from an image taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and actually looks much happier placed in my image. Also the Palm Trees are a favorite object taken from one of my older Florida images.
Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers to Add Texture to Objects
The interesting birds are a free PNG file from Jai Johnson’s The Daily Textures (scroll to the bottom of blog to find download). A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+Click between layers to clip adjustment layer so it only affects the birds in image) to get the soft effect. To find the Pattern Adjustment Layer, go to the bottom of the Layers Panel and click on the half black and half white circle – then choose Pattern Fill. In this case a turquoise/blue watercolor pattern was chosen as a pattern and set to a Scale of 120%. The pattern can be moved by dragging in the image so the pattern is lined up just right. If you do not have a pattern you like, open up a JPG texture file in PS, then select the whole texture (CTRL+A) and go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Now the texture appears at bottom of the pattern list to add as an effect with the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (or it can also be used for the Brush Texture in the Brush Panel or the Pattern Overlay Layer Style effect). Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers creates some very nice effects when clipped to a black and white brush layer or vector layer. In this case, the bird file was a solid black PNG layer so adding the variegated watercolor effect created some very nice subtle detail in the flying birds.
Creating a Reflection
A reflection of the elephant and palm trees was created by duplicating their object layers, then choosing Free Transform (CTRL+T). By holding down the SHIFT key and dragging from the top straight down, the image can be pulled upside down to any length needed. If the water is shallow, the reflection will have more color in it. Above the water is shallow so the layer opacity was set to 49% to keep it soft but with some color from the original object. A round brush with grain it was used to paint in some water in a bluish color.
One of my orange and yellow colored Corel Painter textures was added underneath in Overlay blend mode to warm up the image a little. The texture border is from Kim Klassen‘s Nested Frame set to 80% layer opacity. This was after the texture was taken into Select -> Color Range and the center color removed – this created a border effect instead of placing the whole texture on the image. I am not sure this texture is still available – it is a shame since she creates very subtle soft textures that give images a slightly different feel. The now free Nik Viveza 2 was used to set the elephant as the focal point. Some clouds were added on a New Layer using Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (these are fabulous!) – using a soft a beige color and not blue or white to match the image. The last step was to open Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects’ Grain filter (set to Amount of 0.48 and Size 0.47). Adding just a little grain to everything can really soften the object edges and blend the objects to make the image look like it was all in the original setting.
It really is a bit of a process to pull all this together, but it is fun to do. It took me several hours to actually create the above image. I made several wrong-turns before I got the effect I liked. The experimentation can give some really surprising results. Check out some of my older blogs below if you want some more ideas. Hope this helped you out a little – have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Springtime Wishes from Betsy
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
How to Create an Image From Nothing!
Just adding a short post as I am still taking a blog break. This pix is of a Greylag Goose that resides at the West Palm Beach Zoo in Florida. Wanted to showcase the wonderful Inky Leaks Spatter FX Brushes recently purchased from one of my favorite brush people, Nicolai at the Grut Brushes Website. First created a texture to be placed behind the bird after he was selected and the original background removed. Topaz ReMask 3 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was used, but the new PS Select and Mask Command would also do this very well. This background was created using several of Inky Leaks brushes and was a lot of fun to create. He has 100 brushes in the collection so there are lots of ways to use them. My favorites are the small spatter regular brushes which are shown in the texture above. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added above to change the color palette to more green and blues.
The Bird: The Crispy Swill mixer brush in the set was used to smooth out the paint strokes on the bird. The Grut website has lots of other nice brushes and in fact each Monday he posts a free brush to try which has given me a chance to try out different types of brushes and media. Another Grut Mixer Brush called Hay Camel was also used on this image, but I changed the Options Bar settings to Wet 100%, Load is 50%, Mix 100%, and Flow 83% for softening the edges of a subject. Just because certain settings are shown with a brush, take the time to try different Options Bar settings and textures. Very different brushes can be created that you may like better! Fay’s (Sirkis) Precious Oil Diamond Mixer Blender was first used to soften the feathers. This is a brush I use all the time on birds and the only place I can find her brushes is at KelbyOne Training – search for Fay as an instructor and several classes with downloadable material that includes her brushes are available. Her mixers are the best I have found for PS. If you can find a few brushes that you like, it is definitely worth the time to create a Tool Preset file with just these brushes. (See my Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up! blog.)
After painting the bird, Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Silver Reflector filter and a Toy Filter filter with the Camera Shake turned off was applied to further blend the bird into the background. For some reason I find this plug-in does a good job with blending objects together. The now free Nik Viveza 2 was opened to create a soft vignette feel. I just did not like the way it was looking so the texture was duplicated and placed on top using the original texture colors. A black layer mask was created by ALT+clicking on the mask icon at the bottom of the Layer Mask and parts of the image was painted back to introduce a little more color into the image. 2 Lil Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Color Bokeh Grunge Set #2 overlay was added and set to Linear Burn blend mode at 67% layer opacity. This added a little more color and darkening in the corners. On a New Layer a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style was added for some painterly effects. The goose now has a lot more dimension and blends into the background much nicer.
If you love Photoshop brushes, Grut’s brushes are definitely ones to check out! Lots of choices here! And my other advice is to do not give up on an image if it is not turning out exactly like you wanted. Walk away for a while and come back to it – lots of times an answer does show up to improve the results. Well have a great weekend and go try out some new brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd