I have been taking a break for a while – lots was going on with all the many Photoshop conferences and the new versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. Everyone seems to be using this one filter in PS – I can’t say that I blame them. It is turning out to be pretty cool! Since writing a blog called Wow! The New Improved Photoshop Neural Filter Colorize in August, the filter has gotten much more stable and works a lot smoother.
The above is an image of the old Colonial Hotel built in 1901 by Henry Flagler in Nassau, the Bahamas. The hotel burned down in 1922 and the British Colonial Hilton Hotel is now located on this area. The image is from Shorpys.com (see original black and white). The area has some interesting history including scenes from the James Bond Movie Never Say Never Again! Thought I’d include this vintage 1918 postcard of the original hotel from Wikipedia. Wish I could have visited the original – it looks quite beautiful!
For post processing on the top photo the relatively new PS Neural Filter Colorize was selected using just the preset called Retro-Faded. After applying the filter on a New Layer, a stamped (or composite) layer was created on top, and the Edit -> Sky Replacement command was used to add in a more interesting sky. On a new stamped layer, Color Efex Pro 4 was used to soften up the whole image to give an overall nice warm feeling (Ink, Darken/Lighten Center and Film Efex: Vintage filters were used). Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer for some image contrast.
Below you can see the image of Neptune was larger and what settings were used. (See my 1-minute video called Hilton Waikoloa Village Palace Tower Fountain for other fountain images taken a while ago – I have no idea who created it!) It was cropped down to emphasize the expression on Neptune‘s face (this guy had a bunch of children). It took a lot of steps but the color definitely came from the Colorization Neural Filter. Below is the original image in the Colorize Panel. Just the sliders were used this time.
The main objects were selected, which took quite a while due to the complexity of the subjects and many items had to be covered, removed or added to get a more unified feel in the image – just basic PS clean up. One of my painted backgrounds was used to give a more painterly old feel. An oldie-but-a-goodie filter was brought out to give the image a warmer feel – Topaz Lens Effect’s Gold Reflection filter was applied at 79% layer opacity – then some of the effect was painted out with a layer mask so it was not overdone. Finished up with the Camera Raw to adjust the colors a little more. But overall this is the color palette that was applied from the Colorization filter.
The above image was another Shorpy.com black and white image of Bannack, Montana in 1942. I wanted to show that this image was colorized in the neural filter twice. First converting a duplicate of the original the black and whiter Background layer with the Output to New Color Layer checkbox on (see first screenshot below), and then using four Focal Points, three adding yellow to the dirt road and one to cool down the first hillside area (see second screenshot below). Back in PS the only other things done to the image were a Levels Adjustment Layer and a little bit of Dodging and Burning on the dirt road to define the edges.
As stated above PS has added a couple extra tweaks to the new PS 2022 upgrade and the filter no longer is crashing as much (also my brushes are working correctly again!) I did have one big program blow-out (PS just disappeared!) while adjusting the Focal Points, but when tried again it worked.
Still figuring out the other filters. It seems there needs to be a little more work done to get them working as good as the Colorize Filter. I did learn that if your Neural Filters keep crashing your system or shuts the filter down, you can delete the filter file and let Photoshop restore them when you restart the program. This fixed some of my errors with these filters, but not all. Here is the Adobe troubleshooting link.
Hope you have tried out this filter – it seems like it does have some very nice uses for the PS creative. It is nice to see PS adding a few new items to try out……Digital Lady Syd
As many of you know I love to colorize images, especially old ones from my own family collection of photos or those from Shorpy’s – the best around for old pix. Now you can actually colorize images that aren’t old black and white shots and get some pretty remarkable results with this updated filter panel. The best information I could find on the Colorize filter is a short YouTube by Photoshop guru Colin Smith called New Neutral Colorize in Photoshop Can do Much More. One thing I found interesting is that the Colorize Filter and the Select Subject command are both using the same AI Sensei Technology PS uses.
The image above is an image by Nairit Prachanda of a Himalayan Free Church from Unsplash. The original image is very dark as seen in the link. By using the Beta Colorize filter, this image can be made to really pop! This filter can be revisited by making the image a Smart Object before beginning the change. Below is a JPG screenshot of what the Colorize interface looked like when opened (go to Filters -> Neural Filters and select Colorize at bottom – need to move toggle to the right to load the panel) and manipulated. In this image an orange triangle told me that the filter had quit working and appeared towards the end of its use – remember, it is a Beta version so it may not work smoothly all the time. The sliders that are checked were adjusted just slightly – a little bit goes a long way. If you do not want the program to do the original adjustments, check Retain original image colors and adjust the sliders manually. To get the warm color on the right, just click in the image and the color picker opens up – choose a color for that area. It will change everything that color so this may have be adjusted back in PS with a layer mask.
Also note that Colorize has Profiles presets that can be used to give a certain feel – this one used the Retro Green to bring out the oranges especially. (Profiles presets include: Retro in all cases and the following words: high contrast, blue brown, light yellow, purple yellow, bright, red, green, faded, denim, dark, and brown). In this case, it was overall a little too much, so the Profile intensity was checked and the slider set to 70. Note that the Profile and the Profile slider amount settings were not retained in the Smart Object although all the other settings were.
Back in PS, used both a Shadow and a Highlight layer (see my A Few Photoshop and Lightroom Tips and Tricks blog-Tip #2 from Sam Peterson), which showed some of the background a little more clearly. Then the Camera Raw filter’s Calibration Panel was opened and the Red, Green and Blue Primary sliders were adjusted.
A second Neural Filter was applied to add a little more green to the top of the structure and make the orange look more painterly. The colors were reset by pressing the arrow and line icon in the upper right, then the Retro Green Profile was selected again and the Profile intensity was set to 50 – that was all that was done this time. A black layer mask was created and just those two areas were painted back.
The image above is from my favorite vintage site, Shorpy.com – to see the original Black and White version click here. When doing these colorizations, once the image is loaded into Photoshop, be sure to make sure the size is not crazy – like 80 inches X 60 inches at 72 res. What I always do is go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resolution box and change it to 300 ppi, then check the box again and then go up to the size – it should now have adjusted down to something like 8 inches X 5 inches but it can not be changed to a reasonable size. Otherwise you could have problems down the way with the huge size of the image.
This image was taken into the Colorize Filter and not much was done to it – only a little Red and Magenta were added before bringing it back into PS for further processing. (See panel below.) It was definitely too green so a few things were done to get the image above.
Back in PS, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Cerulean preset was added to darken it. Next Sam Peterson’s Shadows and Highlight layers were added to emphasize the shadows and lighten up the foreground shrubs. A Red Channel Luminosity Curve Adjustment Layer was added on top. On a stamped layer (CRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) set to a Smart Object, Color Efex Pro 4 was opened where lots of filters were applied (Tonal Contrast, Brilliance/Warmth, Vignette-Lens, Contrast Color Range, Remove Color Cast, White Neutralizer, Sunlight, and Image Borders) – all of these were set to taste. Finished off with a Levels Adjustment Layer changing the black Output Level amount to 14 to get a little more of a vintage feel in it.
The above 1880 Avenue Parisienne painting (click link to see original) by Jean Beraud was selected for trying out the Neural Filter Colorize because it was rather dark but was a very interesting image. It is also one of my favorite paintings. Below is the panel and basically the only thing done with the Colorize filter was to check the Retain original image colors box and set the Saturation to +50. After that the Camera Raw Filter was used to just slightly adjust the skin tones as the faces were really over colorized but it looked good in other parts of the painting. (Color Mixer – Saturation Reds +8, Orange +21, and Yellows -15 and Luminance Oranges +65 and Yellows -6) This step also lightened some of the buildings in the background which show the Parisian architecture of the time. Since the skin was still too bright, a Vibrance Adjustment Layer set to Vibrance +44 and Saturation -19 was add and the layer mask filled with black (CTRL+I) – then just the skin areas were painted back in. This helped a lot. Last step added a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity to slightly change the tones a little. I really like both iterations and it was fun to try out the filter with a really good painting.
As you can see, this Colorize filter has a lot of possibilities and I am sure Adobe is working on it as we speak. It is fun just to see what it will do and the creative possibilities are endless. I want to try just bringing a selected area into it to see what it would do in a composite. Hope everyone is having a great summer and gets a chance to play around with this filter and your images…..Digital Lady Syd
Hi everybody! I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I really have been busy with Photoshop! Major project going through all brushes! So many to choose from and big decisions on which to use. Of course this is a whole other blog on how to sort through this. The portrait image above, by Christopher Campbell at Unsplash, is one that worked nicely with the brushes for the painting effect required in this blog.
Adobe Creative Cloud has Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge videos that are released for Photoshop every few weeks. A couple months ago Sam Peterson, an illustrator and painter, ran two weeks of some really fabulous PS videos. One was called Brushes where he gives you a starter file and walks you through how to create a similar effect as shown above. The image used PS’s Camera Raw, Angled Strokes and Oil Paint filters to begin the painterly process as Sam demonstrates. He also showed how to create a background to match the image to be painted. This photo used a brush called Clay for the background that was in Kyle T. Webster’s India Set he sold for charity (unfortunately no longer available). It is basically a chunky block brush. For a very similar brush, check out the Brix Brush in Kyle’s Summer 2020 brush set or for the brushe, Disastro or Disastro Spatter in his Summer 2021 Brushes, which uses both the foreground and background colors (press harder or lighter to get variations and a cool texture effect). Lots of different brushes were tried before finding a background brush I liked – but then this is half the fun! For info on how to download and load Kyle’s free PS sets, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog – scroll down to the How To Find His Brushes and Loading the Brushes sections.
The Mixer Blender
Sam gave guidance on what brush settings to use, but it is up to you to find a brush on which to apply these settings. This process is using a Mixer brush to blend, not a Smudge brush which a lot of people call a blender brush. Mixer brushes are a more advanced version of the Smudge. It does not appear Kyle uses Mixer brushes very often for blending as there are only a few in his sets (there are several Mixers in his Megapack Real Oils section will work nicely). For something like digital painting, I would recommend using Mixer Blenders for this exact and complicated blending. The main thing to remember is that the Wet and Load amounts, which Sam sets at 15% to start, can be adjusted “on the fly” to get a more or less painterly effect from the brush. He did not change his Mix and Flow which were both at 50%. Still okay to change if it helps. Also, if a color is needed to be added in, like for a cheek or lips, there are several ways to do this. I find the easiest is to select a regular brush and splash a bit of color in for blending with the Mixer. In another blog I will discuss some of these Mixer points.
One of my favorite Mixer (blender) brushes, and one I used extensively on this image, is by David Belliveau (free download of 4 brushes at the link and also check out his amazing drawing tutorials – link to my blog on David’s technique is listed below). The settings Sam suggested worked fine with this brush (set to 195 pixels). When set to 15 pixels, used David’s settings to do the detail work on the image, like the eyes, lips, and some hair – mainly where the focal point is, after the original blending was done. The larger brush was used to soften down all the other edges other than the eyes and hair by the right eye which were left sharpened as discussed below. As a reminder, once the settings have been added into the Brush Settings panel for the Mixer, save it down as a new brush. Otherwise all the settings will be lost if you go to a different brush and want to come back to this Mixer.
Once a brush is chosen, it was time to paint with the Mixer – Sam seemed to only paint on one layer, but I found it much better to split it up for the different areas being painted. For the right image below, here is a list of some of the layers created – started with a basic once over on the face smoothing the edges like in Sam’s tutorial, then evening out the lighting effect on the next layer, added color to her cheeks, eyelash layer, pupils layer, iris layer, catchlight layer, fixed the shirt on another layer – just duplicated part of it and blended it together, some hair strands added on another, and lips painted. As you can see, it is a bit labor intensive, but the results are worth it. By putting everything on separate layers, corrections can be made really easily. Below on the left is the original image and on the right is the one that looks like a pretty decent retouch – so what makes it look more painterly?
Getting the Final Painterly Look
Mainly adding a texture is a key to getting the more painterly effect needed to sell the look. Sam has a texture in the PSD file he provides and several other brushing suggestions are given to get this look. Also using Color Lookup Adjustment Layers, and possibly Gradient Map Adjustment Layers, using different blend modes and opacities gives some nice painterly effects. And do not be afraid to stack several of the same kind of adjustments using different blend modes and opacities. Just remember that usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer must be added on top to bring back some contrast. So this is what was done on this image to finish up the “look:”
- Liquify was applied to enlarge her eyes just little and give her mouth a bit of an upturn (this filter is so cool!).
- A stamped layer was created and a Sharpen action was run on the image – a black layer mask was applied and just her eyes, her hair strand on the right and a small section of her ear lob were sharpened.
- A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 80% opacity was run using On1-Heat Wave LUT – one that adds warmth into the image – any warm one you will probably get this effect. This really filled her face with a beautiful light effect.
- Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to 12% layer opacity called Teal Orange Plus Contrast preset (not sure where I got this). It darkened down the blues in her shirt.
- Added a Levels Adjustment Layer to flatten down the blacks a little since paintings do not have true blacks in them usually.
- Added French Kiss Tableaux Mirage-2 Texture – used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture with Saturation set to -100 so only the strokes from her texture show up. The texture was set to Overlay blend mode at 46% layer opacity. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.) These layers were grouped and set to 62% Group opacity – then the Group’s layer style was opened and the Blend If Slider was set to This Layer Black tab split to 0/86 and Underlying Layer White tab split to 121/255 so the strokes showed up just like I wanted them.
- Next on a New Layer below the Group file, a brush was created from the texture and used to cover the whole image to give it more of a painterly look – the layer was set to a reddish brown brush color, Color Burn blend mode and 93% opacity. It adds some nice soft canvas looking lines in the image, especially on the face. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.)
- A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the Group above and the Saturation was increased (+44) and Lightness lowered (-38) to darken down and add more color to the image.
- Last step was a final Levels Adjustment Layer – Black tab to 16 and Output Levels black set to 5.
Hopefully you can get an idea what really goes into these digital paintings. And I am still not sure it is really a “Painting” since the original image was used, but it definitely looks more painterly than just a good retouching effect. I still look at it and see places where it could be improved, but it is a learning process. Definitely it took me several hours just to figure out the Mixer blending to get the effects needed. Enjoyed being back and plan on doing this a lot more. ……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter – David Belliveau tutorial information
How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color (You Tube video link in blog)
This week does not include a lot of actual painting, but it does contain a lot of free textures and brushes. I am not sure it matters as long as the creation is one of your own. Once again I followed a Julieanne Kost video called Photoshop Compositing Tools and Techniques from Adobe MAX 2020. It was an excellent fairly short video and a good refresher on how to make “fine art” digitally. Previously I did a Creating Composite Images Using the Julieanne Kost Workflow blog which gave details on her basic workflow. I am still learning her techniques and trying to keep my images as simplistic and to the point as she does. Her art does make me think about what I am trying to do with mine.
Julieanne says the “majority of her photos contain a primary subject, a secondary subject, and are set in a background or landscape that she creates.” All her items are there for a reason and she does not like to add in extraneous items that could be distracting. This is the goal I was trying to achieve with the above image.
I thought it might be helpful to include where my resources are from for this image and some of the basic techniques that were used. I hope this is something most people will find useful to do get a similar effect and quite easily.
- The tree was created first – just used the Filter -> Render -> Tree. No. 4 Maple Tree was selected (Light direction 36, Leaves Amount 1, Leaf Size 0, Branches Height 153, and Branches Thickness 58) which created a tree with no leaves. Lots of trees can be chosen here and the settings can be changed to get different effects easily. Really fun to do!
- Next a free texture was added from Shadowhouse Creations called Daguerreotype-8 to get the really odd foreground pattern. I have talked about his fabulous textures for years and he still has them all available for free. In a layer mask, the Gradient Tool was used to remove the texture from the sky area and leave it in the foreground only. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture and set to Linear Dodge blend mode.
- Next a sky was needed so back to Shadowhouse Creations to get one called GF-5 – a beautiful painterly texture. A duplicate of the sky was flipped horizontally with the Free Transform tool to get the the look needed. A layer mask on the top one was used to blend the two versions together.
- I felt like a hill would make a nice element behind the tree so one was painted in using a great free set of Chalky Brushes by Ioana Sopov and containing Chalk Noisy-2 texture brush, which gave the painted soft edge – it was set to 89% layer opacity. It still needed more texture so one called GF-3, which is an old post card in the same group of textures as the sky, was added to the image and clipped (ALT + click between the two layers to link the top layer to the bottom one) to the plain painted hill and set to Multiply blend mode. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to blend the hills into the scene, mainly desaturating and lightening it in the Master settings.
- Then to cover up the harsh horizon line, a brush from Jose Rodriguez called PTC Hair Brush set to 200 pixels and a darkish brown color (can download brush for free at his How to Blur Backgrounds in Photoshop video which was very good) was used to create the fence, and I thought it was an important element to further separate the tree and give it more of a sense of loneliness. Note this is a small Hairbrush but it worked great for this image so keep this in mind when using brushes – they are not always what they seem!
- The tree looked too harsh so it was duplicated and taken into Topaz (see sidebar of Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio 2 where Impression was opened with just the Oil Pastel preset applied. (The older version of Topaz Impression would also have worked.) Now it looked a lot more painterly. The original tree layer was turned off permanently now. For the Painterly tree, a Black and White Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and set to 68% layer opacity to almost turn the tree black and white. This is something else to remember, single layers with just one element can often be brought into PS filters to give interesting element effects.
- On two New Layers, the first airbrush found in the Converted Legacy Tool Presets Airbrush folder (loaded just like the Legacy brushes – see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog on how to load brushes) – it was set to a regular brush (it is a Mixer in the Tool Presets so select any regular brush first, then on the Airbrush mixer press CTRL+ALT+ click to switch it to a regular brush – and now adjust the brush settings to 3 pixels Size with Build Up and Smoothing checked) was used to draw along the tree roots – first used a dark brown, then with the same brush a lighter color was drawn next to them to make the roots stand out. If you have not used these older Tool Preset brushes, check them out – there are some good ones in there.
- Added textures – used the Adobe Paper Texture Pro, which is still working in PS for me, but it is no longer available from Adobe. Not sure what has happened, but textures can be added manually quite easily. The first one was called Necropolis that was set to Difference at 55% opacity – this gives a bluish tone to the whole image. Then Villa Adriana set to Color Dodge – opacity 32% and Fill 30% – a black layer mask was added and just the root area and a little bit of the trunk was painted back to get the rather glowy edges for the roots. They are both from Flypaper Textures – I believe I got the textures a long time ago with the PS extension so if you have it or had it previously, you may have already have a nice set of textures.
- Next a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer was added using a dark gold color (#8e7329) at 50% opacity.
- Added a Curves Adjustment Layer – just a straight diagonal line to upper right with a starting point at lower left set to Input 0 and Output 40 – gave a little bit of a matte look to the most dark pixels in the image.
- Next added a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer to give more of a dark blue as opposed to a dark black to the image – this technique was discussed in Julieanne’s video. A stop was added on the bottom of the gradient at Location 20 and a color swatch set to #292d33, a very dark blue. She continued adjusting the Saturation and Brightness amounts in the HSB settings of the swatch, but I did not need this. I liked this color that was being added. Only wanted it applied to the top area of the image, so in the layer mask a black to white gradient was created with the Gradient Tool to blend it in at the horizon.
- Added a New Layer and selected a brush I call “SJ Soft Br (MK) to blend orig. bkgds back into mask for animal pix” created from a Matt Kloskowski webinar. Basically the settings use a 30-pixel soft round brush with the Options Bar set to Opacity 41% and Flow to 26%. Matt uses this brush in a different way than how it was used in this image to soften the edges of the tree trunk so it blended into the background more, and soften some of the sharp color and edges of the smaller branches high up in the tree. A sampled color from the sky was used for this.
- A Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added and just a subtle change was made to add some lightness into the Highlights (Yellow-Blue set to -3) and darkness to the Shadows (Yellow-Blue +4).
- A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the color in the overall image. The one used was called On1-Heat Wave LUTs-7 but there are so many to choose from that several were looked at before settling on this one – set to Normal at 19% layer opacity. I like to look at these last because LUTs tend to pull colors together really well.
- A Spotlight Effect was made with a New Layer set to Overlay blend mode at 87% opacity – using a white soft round brush to lighten up the middle of the sky where where the branches are. See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog for more on this.
- Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer which was applied to only the top of the image by using the Gradient Tool in the layer mask at 90% layer opacity.
As you can see, it was a pretty large endeavor to get this image. Even though the steps look straight-forward, it definitely was not. Several adjustment layers were added and removed and changes in opacity were made to them as an after-thought. I guess one of my main points is that if you look around there are lots of free resources that can be added into your composites. I wanted to share some of these with you since it is expensive to always be buying products that you may only use once or twice. Some brushes included are all pretty simple to make and several free ones are very nice and totally different from what Kyle Webster offers with PS. And as a second point, if you are like me, I am always trying to find something new and different to do in PS and to add some new dimension to an image. I think Julieanne has lots of good ideas and it did start me thinking. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd
Happy Halloween! Hard to believe it is here already! It is always fun to create a Halloween image. This year a lot of the the imagery came from a nifty little program that JixiPix Software gave away a few months ago. (I have gotten several free software programs from them by just being on their mailing list so sign up if you are interested.) It is called Hallows Eve and was really simple to use. JixiPix has several smaller plugin and stand-alone programs that look really nice also. Below is what the interface of Hallows Eve looked like as I was putting this image together.
A few other elements were added – the Zombie and the Moon from PixelSquid, a great program for adding elements (check it out to see the large amount of objects they have – great for compositing in images) and the objects can be accessed from a panel inside of Photoshop. Viveza 2 was used to balance out the image. The cobweb was a brush from Obsidian Dawn and the font is called Strings.
Hope everyone is having a great holiday. In the meantime enjoy playing around with all the new features in Photoshop 2021 – lots of fun trying them out. Will get back soon with info on some of my favorite plugins and PS features. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd
Just popping in (apparently I can’t stay away from blogging very long) to show you an image I did using Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement (for website go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar). There has been so much controversy at the moment over what is too much Artificial Intelligence (AI) to apply to an image and what is acceptable. I do believe a lot of AI is being developed for apps to place on phones or tablets, but serious Photographers and Photoshop Users really don’t need or want a lot of it. It takes away some of the creative decisions we like to make. That being said, there are a few major exceptions to this rule of not using AI. I am totally in love with Topaz (for website go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Sharpen AI and Topaz Denoise AI (and don’t for get Topaz Gigapixel) – use them a lot, and I am totally crazy about Luminar 4’s AI Sky Replacement Tool (what I see as a filter). The image above is a great example – no matter what you do in PS, it cannot be done this quickly and easily as it is in Luminar. If you do sky replacements often, you have got to try out this software and all the sliders that are available to get a great result.
Below are a couple of Screenshots of the settings used on this image – and with Luminar as a Smart Object plugin in Photoshop, if you do not like the settings, they can be readjusted easily, including adjusting the individual tool layer masks. For information on what each of the Sky Replacement Tool sliders do, check out this Luminar 4’s Manual page on AI Sky Replacement Tool – they are all defined there. Click on each image below to see the Flicker image showing the settings used on this image. There are 29 skies provided by Luminar or you can provide your own sky JPGs. This one is from Karen Hutton’s Heavenly Clouds set called Delicate Staircase (Kelby One supplied these as a bonus a while back). Very easy to substitute in any sky!
I found that by tweaking the Landscape Enhancer Tool, the sky could be made to look even better!
What I like best, is that there is no deterioration in the image after applying it – it looks totally natural!
Below is the original image so you can see what a difference the sky made, and literally in just minutes.
Anyway, thought I would share what I think of this great AI Tool from Luminar. I know they are coming out with a whole new program of AI effects before long, so I cannot comment on what else they are doing. I just know that Luminar 4 has a real winner with the AI Sky Replacement Tool. I have not used the AI Augmented Sky Tool so I do not know how good it is. Will try to evaluate it soon. Hope this was some help for those of you who do want a decent sky replacement program – not sure this can be beat. Will blog again soon…..Digital Lady Syd
Not sure why, but last week I started playing around with the Median Filter and found out it is a pretty nifty Photoshop Filter. It is found by going to Filter -> Noise -> Medium. It works great with other filter or plugin effects and seems to be one of those overlooked older filters that Photoshop packs with its software. Using this filter basically creates an image made of softer shapes with less detail.
The funny little Great Orange Tip Butterfly photo taken at the Rainforest Exhibit at the University of Florida’s Museum used this filter. I did use Topaz Gigapixel (as the image was cropped really tight – see my How to Use Gigapixel AI as a Plug In to Photoshop blog) and Topaz Denoise AI since the crop really showed up any noise in the image. (Topaz website can be found in the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) Then I tried out the Medium filter – it actually provided a really interesting beginning background for this image. When set to Multiply blend mode, it gave a really rich feel to the background and made lots of the lines fade into the background. (The other filters used in this image were Corel Painter’s Particle Shop using the Heat Trail filter which gave the pretty string effect and Photoshop’s Spherize filter which really rounded up my butterfly – I will blog on this one soon as it is actually a lot of fun to use also.)
How does this filter work? Heads Up – technical info here – skip if you do not care
The filter is controlled by adjusting the size of the Radius slider which goes from 0 to 600. The following info is from Adobe Photoshop Special Effects Focus Guide from 2003. Amazing this filter is still around and useful. If you set a Radius of 25, the Median filter will select the image using groups of 25 pixels. It blends these pixels together according to the closeness of their color and brightness – any pixels that are too different from the average color in a group of pixels will be discarded.
Adobe says the Median Filter “reduces noise in an image by blending the brightness of pixels within a selection. The filter searches the radius of a pixel selection for pixels of similar brightness, discarding pixels that differ too much from adjacent pixels, and replaces the center pixel with the median brightness value of the searched pixels. This filter is useful for eliminating or reducing the effect of motion on an image.” Yawn!
When would you use this filter?
The filter can be used as an alternative to the Gaussian Blur filter to blur parts of an image to change the depth of field. The result can be more natural-looking similar to a real photograph effect.
At a very low level (like 1 or 2), it has a smoothing effect which can help reduce moire patterns and noise in an image. With scanned images, try setting it to a minimum amount to fill in small white scanning speckles. See my Scanning with a Black Box Blog for more on this.
The filter averages out colors that are too different from those found in the set Radius value. Here is an example of a Radius set very low at 19 and it gives a nice soft depth of field with just the guitar strings sharpened by removing the effect with a layer mask using a brush set to black. This image is one of my favorite images for practicing new techniques from ISO Republic called Guitar Man.
At higher levels, it produces soft, abstract images that still contain fairly distinct edges in contrast areas. This could be used for some very interesting effects.
The Median filters seems to work really well to just soften up any distracting things in the background but does a better job than the Gaussian Blur filter. I will try using this more and decide if it really is better. I tried to soften a waterfall with this filter and use a layer mask so only the water was affected. PS says it works well with motion blur, but I actually found the Motion Blur filter works better for this. (See my Smoothing Those Waterfalls Blog on how to do this.) It would probably be an easy experiment so give it a try. I plan on being a little more sporadic with my blogging for awhile but I will continue blogging. Just not on a very regular schedule. In the meantime, continue working in Photoshop and trying out all the cool things it has…..Digital Lady Syd
I have always liked Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Sharpen AI. Since I hand-hold my camera when taking pictures, many of my images are just a little soft and is why it has become one of my favorite plugins. Since Topaz came out with the AI version, it seems to have gotten better and better. You can now get a very subtle sharpening effect without having to use a Photoshop mask.
- In Lightroom or ACR, do not sharpen your image using the Detail Panel, let Sharpen AI do this. Also, be sure to use DeNoise first as the noise will be sharpened along with everything else if taken Sharpen AI first. This is when Topaz AI Clear is often used – where just a little noise reduction is needed. It is located in either Topaz DeNoise AI (which has a Color Noise Reduction slider) or Topaz Studio 2 (which has Exposure and Clarity sliders and I like this personally).
- Duplicate your Background Layer in Photoshop before using the filter just in case you want to reduce the overall sharpening opacity later. Topaz Sharpen AI can also be applied while in Lightroom by right clicking on the image to select the program and choosing Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments.
- Turn off the Auto-update preview button as your computer will be running all the time if you don’t. And it does take a few seconds every time the Update button is selected, so the plugin take a while to process, especially when applying at the end.
- How do you know if you need to update the plugin – this one should be intuitive, but sometimes I get lost on what it is doing. If the Update button is grayed out, it has updated. This is true also when masking. Just make sure it is updated when applying or it will not update when it goes back to PS.
- Use the Navigator to move around your image which is is set to by default to 100% zoom instead of zooming all the way out to view the whole image. It takes a lot longer to update a preview when zoomed out and can crash the program. Topaz should be correcting this issue soon, but at least at 100% View it works just fine.
- When the image is viewed at 100%, it is really viewing at 200% in PS, LR, OnOne, Luminar or most other software. So you are really zoomed in with Sharpen AI and seeing a lot of detail.
- The Auto buttons are pretty good as a “starting place” to use on your images. Now there are two Auto buttons, one for selecting the correct mode and one for the settings.
Mode and Setting Selections
If the mode selected by Sharpen does not look that great, try the others. The Sharpen mode that Topaz selected is just for overall image sharpening. Stabilize mode is good for blurred images caused by motion blur from the camera or the subject. Focus is for images where the focus is in the “wrong plane” according to Joel Wolfson. This is especially useful when the eyes are not sharp but overall the image is good. On some of my furry friend pictures, Focus can cause some really weird sharpening so watch out for this. Stabilize mode usually works best for my image since movement is why my images are soft. When you click on a different mode, the Auto turns off.
Try adjusting the Settings sliders yourself as I have found that the ones Topaz selects are usually just a beginning point. Each time you change a setting or preview area, need to click the Update button if it is not grayed out. If you oversharpen, it will begin to look a little crunchy so watch out for this – sort of defeats the purpose of what you are trying to do. To reset the sliders to their default, just double click on the word “Sharpness” or “Noise Suppression.”
The Screenshot above is set to 43% View for this blog so you can see what is happening, but I would not recommend going below the 100% View. For this image, Topaz had recommended the Sharpen mode, but it did not look good to me so I changed it to Stabilize but did try using the Settings on Auto. It is hard to tell, but the fence and the face are definitely sharper. Since I did not want the fence sharper, the mask below was created. The final settings are shown in the screenshot below.
I found creating a mask can be a little tricky for me. After watching the Topaz videos at their site (which I recommend you do), following these steps is how to do this correctly.
- First set view to Single Panel (this works easiest for me) and press Update again.
- Then click the Masking button at the top of the interface.
- Select your brush by setting the Size (which can also be adjusted using brackets keys like in PS or using the slider), Softness, and Opacity.
- Paint over areas where the sharpening needs to be applied. If close edges need to be followed, turn on the Edge-aware check box – turn it off when filling in the inside areas for selection as the computer runs a lot when on.
- It is critical that you use the Navigator to scroll around the image (otherwise the program may crash like mine does) while adding in the mask. For the peacock image there was a little bird image in the bottom left corner that was clicked – it selected part of my bird at least. Use the X key to quickly switch between adding masking and removing it. You can see the mask in the little box on the bottom left – note there is a drop-down box with Options like Fill, Invert, Clear, and Delete.
- Once the overlay shows it is all selected, click the Update button if not grayed out.
- Now click Apply Mask.
- Do not do make any other changes in AI Sharpen interface unless you want to Sharpen the whole image again and create another mask.
- Click Apply to go back into PS.
A couple links on using Sharpen AI from Topaz are Sharpen Your Skills with Sharpen AI by Joel Wolfsen and How to Fix Blurry Images with Topaz Sharpen AI by Greg Rostami. The interface in the videos is a little behind what is in the version shown below, but the info will help if you are a little lost as I was when using this program. Below is a Screenshot of image showing the Sharpen AI settings and the Mask section open. This is what the mask looked like right after clicking the bird icon.
Topaz is working hard on getting this plugin to work faster and better and it is being updated often. The program is definitely much better and I find I am using it on most of my images. Using the Sharpen mode will give just a nice subtle sharpening effect when there is not a real problem with the image. I believe that Topaz is still the front-runner in the race for the AI technology in the plugin world. It will be interesting to see where this is all going. Will be taking a week off to catch up on some post-processing work – see ya soon!….. Digital Lady Syd
Recently Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) made their Gigapixel AI software available as a Lightroom and Photoshop plugin. I thought I would show you what I did after upgrading to this newest version. I was pretty astonished how great it can be. This Windsor Castle weather vane is an example of one of the images I tried using it on. Besides getting more detail in the close up area, Gigapixel is also great for printing out smaller images. Below is the original that was cropped in tight.
This image was taken using Aperture Mode, an 18-200 mm lens set to 200 mm, ISO 200, 1/320 sec Shutter Speed at F/9.0. That is as close as I could get to the weather vane using this lens. A couple things had to be done in Lightroom before opening it into Gigapixel AI. Obviously, first it had to be cropped; then in the Lens Correction Panel, checked Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Correction. By zooming in so far into an image, you will probably see some chromatic aberration. To go into Gigapixel, just right click on the image and select it in the list – it will ask what file format you want the image to be brought back into Lightroom. In this case, I used a tiff file with a -Edit added to the file name which was then taken into Photoshop after it came back into Lightroom. Below is a Screenshot of what Gigapixel looked like for the above.
You can see that I let Gigapixel AI Auto detect the Suppress Noise and Remove Blur in the image – it seemed to help since nothing like this had been applied in Lightroom. This does not have to be done and probably would not be checked in most cases. The image was doubled in size by selecting 2X. It is still a small image so I could have used 4X. The final post work in PS involved mainly adding Luminar 4 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) to the image and adding a sky from a set by Karen Hutton called Heavenly Clouds-the Sunsets. Then the various sliders could be adjusted to fit the sky to my image. This is really a fabulous feature of Luminar.
To do this same thing from Photoshop, you will not find the Topaz Gigapixel AI in the Topaz Lab folder under Filters since changing the size is something that cannot be done as a filter. Therefore, to find the plugin, go to File -> Automate -> Topaz Gigapixel AI and a similar screen will open as shown in the screenshot above. Make your corrections and click save – it will come back into Photoshop as a named “gigapixel layer” and the image will be larger than what it was. This is such a great upgrade – I think I will be using it a lot!
Above is the original image – it was taken through a plastic window using Aperture Mode, an 18-200 mm lens set to 200 mm, ISO 200, 1/60 sec Shutter Speed at F/5.6. It is really not that great an image, but by cropping in close and taking the result into Photoshop, it gives a pretty nice close up of his face. I actually did do some changes in Lightroom before opening the Raw file in Photoshop and cropping. The final work in Photoshop was once again using Luminar to enhance the detail in his face mainly.
If you have not tried Topaz Gigapixel AI, give it a try, especially if you do not have a really major large zoom lens. It has been suggested that you can freeze-frame a video image and use Gigapixel AI to enlarge just the portion wanted. I have not tried this yet, but will. Hope to report back more tips and tricks to using this software after I have tried out a few more pictures. Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
The Best New Software Around – Topaz A.I. Gigapixel!
Posing for a Portrait
This week I am trying out a different method of colorization – this was really simple and I have to thank that wonderful guru Unmesh Dinka at PixImperfect for introducing me to this technique. I have always been a big fan of old vintage images, especially those that Shorpy posts and very old family shots. (See below for some other blog links on how to colorize using other methods.) The pictures are only black and white or sepia images.
Recently Unmesh had a short video called Free Tool to Auto Colorize Black & White Photos where a free program called Image Colorizer was used to create color images. If you watch the video, it shows the program taking a long time to process – it appears they have updated the program and it works much faster. To get this started, here are a couple things you need to know:
- The file must be less than 4 MB, less than 3000 px X 3000 px, and be in jpg, jpeg, or png format. So you may have to go in and reduce the size of your image before using this program. I found my images needed to be less than 3 MB to get it to work correctly – it still produced a pretty low res image no matter what the original size was.
- This does not create a perfect colorized image – but it does a really good job for a starting point so do not be disappointed if your image has color splotches on it – this can be fixed in Photoshop.
- The final image will be created by stacking the colorized image set to Color blend mode on top of the black and white image in PS.
Once you have the image set up to us in the software, go to the website – click on this link here. You just drag and drop your image into the square and watch the progress icon – it takes a few moments depending on the original size you put into the program. Then just download the image and open it up in Photoshop or Lightroom to post-process it. (There is also an app available for Apple and Android phones.)
The above photo was from a list of old 1800’s vintage images at a site I cannot now find. The image was 1200 px by 927 px so it fit the criteria just fine. I want to go over a couple of tricks that I found especially handy when using this program. Once the Image Colorizer has been run, place the image over the original black and white background image and set it to Color blend mode. Below is what the image looked like out of the Image Colorizer – it was not too bad but there are some color distortions along the sides of the road and in the water. It does not look that bad overall – just if you zoom in you can see the issues. I found it amazing that just adding this amount of color can create such a colorful final image after PS editing.
1. Run Image Colorizer and download the image.
2. In PS open the original black and white image.
3. Need to check the Image Size (Image -> Image Size) turn off the Resample button and set it to 300 dpi, then recheck the Resample box, and change the size amounts for the final image.
4. Place the Colorizer image on top and set to Color blend mode. Since the colorizer often introduces some color that is not too flattering in places, need to remove it where you do not want it. Two ways to remove color here:
The color in the above was removed by adding a New Layer on top and setting it to Saturation Blend Mode. Then used the Spotlight Brush (here is what I use – select a soft round brush set to 100 pixels and a Flow of 9% and turn on the “Enable airbrush-style buildup effects” icon). Select black (or any neutral color or else it will really saturate the color) and paint on layer where you want the color removed – build up the effect to remove more. This tip was from the great PS guru John Paul Caponigro – still has a DVD that includes this along with many other great tips.
A Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer could have been used also by setting the Sat to -100, inverting the mask to black and painting with white in the mask where color should be removed.
5. One way to remove the lines that do not look good is to go to Filter -> Blur -> Surface Blur and set the Radius to around 30 and the Threshold at 60, or less, – just experiment to see which looks the best. This was not used on this image. Also a good Smudge Brush can be used to even out color striations – there were lot of really funny lines in just the water area of this image. So a Smudge Brush was created from watching some YouTube videos by RArdell for painting watercolor in PS. Used a Smudge Brush set to soft round brush at 16 pixels and in the Options Bar set a Strength of 81% and Sample All Layers checked. Really simple but it creates some nice smooth lines for the water area to remove the subtle color lines. Increase the size if it is too small.
6. To add color in where the software missed it, just add a New Layer on top, set it to Color blend mode – then sample the color needed and paint.
To finalize this image, Luminar 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) and Viveza were used on stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layers. Also two Color Lookup Adjustment Layers were added – one using Foggy Night at 23% opacity and another using a Heat Waver LUT from On1 at 87% opacity to really warm it up. Then some spotlight effect layers were used to add in that additional dodge and burning effect to really add the depth to the image. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog. Used White, Black, Yellow and Blue layers to paint in the colors where needed. Also on a separate layer, texture was added to give the water more of a flowing look using Grut NM Tack Ranker brush. The real trick was to add in a blue sky so a Gradient set to yellow and the Difference blend mode was added – just dragged down from the top and used a mask to remove from the sides but left a little light in the distance.
I attempted using Image Colorizer on a black and white low res image of some children, and found using a Frequency Separation method for the skin worked the best. Unfortunately it was taking a long time to get the results that looked good, so it is definitely a work-in-progress. This technique works great as a starting point, but PS filters need to be added to get the great color needed. On the other hand, this is a free program and it does look pretty good considering. Hope everyone has a chance to try it out – enjoy the hot summer days we are having!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
How to Convert Black and White Images to Colorful Painting with Topaz Studio 2
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Decided to present a Reboot of this blog from July 2016 since I find it a really handy Dodge and Burn technique and it is easy to do – definitely worth a try for some types of images. I used it on the African Lily image above, along with Luminar 4 (once again used the Glow filter which I find gives a nice soft effect) – for website link check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar. A really simple action can be created to do this technique – I made one and set the color swatch to the default so the white comes up each time for the masks. Also created a brush to use with it. Pretty simple. So here it is again.
This technique is another simple way to dodge and burn an image using blend modes. I figure you cannot have too many different techniques for this – some pictures just do better with one over another. (Check out Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs links at end for some other techniques.) The bird above is a Laughing Kookuburra taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo. He has some very beautiful colors in his feathers.
This technique I learned at a Photoshop World several years ago and am not sure who even presented it. It was just in my notes so I thought I would give it a try and got some really nice results! For the bird the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode really softened his head and the Linear Burn blend mode did a great job on darkening the feathers on his body.
The workflow is pretty simple:
- Duplicate the image twice after doing the basic color and tone corrections to the image.
- Add black layer masks to each layer by holding ALT key while clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon (rectangle with circle in center) at the bottom of the Layers Panel or by pressing CTRL+I in a white layer mask.
- Now on the top duplicate layer, change the blend mode to Linear Burn and name it Darken.
- On the layer underneath, change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and name it Lighten.
- Using a soft round brush set the Options Bar Opacity to 9% and Flow 55%.
- On the Lighten layer mask paint in white over areas to brighten. Do same for Darken layer mask on areas to darken. Since the Opacity and Flow are set fairly low, it will be a build up effect to get just the amount needed.
It is a very easy way to add a little color and/or focus to different parts of your image. If the effect is too strong, just lower the layer opacity. Also, the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode could be used as a spotlight effect to fill darker areas with some soft light.
Just to let you know what is happening with this blend mode, here are the blend mode explanations according to Lesa Snider of in her Photoshop CS6 – the Missing Manual book (an excellent book BTW):
Linear Dodge (Add) – “Lightens your images by increasing its brightness. It is a combo of Screen and Color Dodge modes, so it lightens images more than any other blend mode. But since it tends to turn all light colors white, it can make an image look unnatural.”
Linear Burn – “In this mode (which is actually a combination of Multiply and Color Burn), Photoshop darkens your image by decreasing its brightness. Linear Burn produces the darkest colors of any Darken blend mode, though with a bit more contrast than the others. It has a tendency to turn dark pixels solid black, which makes it ideal for grungy, textured collages…”
From this it is apparent that Linear Dodge (Add) can make an image look unnatural so take care when using it. And Linear Burn can give a grungy effect so watch the results of this. Therefore if your image does not look quite right, try changing the layer blend modes to Screen or Color Dodge for the Lighten layer, and Multiply or Darken blend modes on the Darken layer. Experimenting with blend modes can give some great effects! This image is of a Dragonhunter bug (they like to eat Dragonflies) that was taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo and used this technique to bring out the wing patterns. Just painted areas to lighten and areas to darken. Used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to add a slight vignette and the Sunlight filter to soften some of the bokeh effect that is a little too bright.
Hope you get a chance to try this little technique – pretty easy to do and can give some great results. See ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create a Subtle Dodge and Burn Effect
How to Do a Basic Dodge and Burn with a Twist
How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
What Does the Difference Blend Mode Do?
How to Use Linear Dodge (Add) & Linear Burn Blend Modes on Image – similar blog but with different images
This week I decided to try to create a soft landscape look. A fabulous German photographer named Christian Zieg inspired me to try to achieve a similar effect. Of course there are several ways to do this both in-camera and in Photoshop. In Photoshop any type of filter using the word glow, radiance or diffusion will probably give a good start to creating this look. I tried several different ways, and the following was the best result for this image in my opinion.
This vacant beach on Spanish Cay (as of February it is now open after the devastating Hurricane Dorian) in the Bahamas used two different types of filters to get the final look. Below is how the image looked after a few basic adjustments in Lightroom.
For this image, Skylum’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Luminar 4 was used to get the original soft look. In Luminar these were the “Looks” used: In the Essentials section AI Structure was applied and a Luminar Structure mask was created so only the dead trees were selected. Next in the Creative section the Color Styles (LUT) was applied – the LUT selected was called BW_XInf preset (created by retoucher and photographer Victor Fejes for KelbyOne). By setting the Saturation to -100, the image became a black and white. Next the Glow Look was selected and set to Type: Soft Focus Light, Amount 61, Brightness -18 and in Advanced Settings Smoothness 15 and Warmth 0. The AI Structure layer mask was copied and pasted into the Glow mask, then set the Density slider to 18% so there is not much effect from the mask. By adjusting the Smoothness slider, a very soft effect can be achieved. The last step was to open the Pro section and choose Advanced Contrast where Highlights Contrast slider was set to 39, Midtones Contrast 13, and Shadows Contrast 19. At this point a preset was created called SJ Dreamy Look so the effect could easily be applied to other images. Below is how the image looked after applying the above plugin. I have to admit I sort of liked just this effect.
Now using the Luminar plugin is really great for the soft effect, but to get the dark look, a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer is added using the white to black gradient which creates a beautiful black effect with the white showing up for emphasis. Be sure you have white selected as the foreground color and black as the background on the swatch. A clip-art moon was added to the image with a Levels Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to it to adjust the moon tones.
The second filter used is my favorite, Nik Viveza, to adjust the brightness of the different areas in the image and drive the eye to the moonlight. Wanted it to appear as though the moon was lighting up the island and water behind it. Then just a little clean up was done like dodging and burning on a few of the branches so they are correctly lit. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog to do this.) That is all that was done to get this effect and it is a lot of fun to do.
There are other ways to get the nice soft effect, but this one worked best for me. I tried Diffusion and Radiance techniques, but they did not look as good as Luminar’s Glow. The Gradient Map Adjustment Layer was great for switching up the blacks and whites. Will catch everyone later!….. Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Add a Simple Glow Effect to Your Image
How to Add a Darker Background Image for a Darker Background Image for a Different Effect
My Glowing Porch Flowers!
Can You Spot the Photo Bombing Kids?
Taking a bit of a break this week from blogging. Well I thought I was but this image took a very long time to post process so it is a good thing I like Photoshop! I will share with you some of the techniques that went into creating this image.
- This was a 5-image HDR taken at Spanish Cay in The Bahamas several years ago. (It is also one of the places to go through customs when sailing in and out of The Bahamas.) Used the Lightroom HDR program – just made sure the auto settings were turned off so I could do the next step.
- The resulting DNG image was opened in Photoshop. I have been learning how to work with Jimmy McIntyre’s Luminosity techniques for landscapes. The steps he explains in his How to Use Luminosity Masks and Single Exposure video – this is a bit of a complicated technique that uses the Apply Image command, but it gives great results. In my Tidbits Blog of Thursday called Little House on Green Turtle Cay, the same technique was used.
- The resulting image was pretty noisy so on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Topaz (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) DeNoise AI was added – used the Auto settings and it cleaned it up with just a small amount of the sliders. Best I have seen it do! Also Topaz Sharpen AI was added using Stabilize model (Sharpness 74 and Suppress noise 16). Be sure to watch haloing with this filter – it probably caused some of my clean up issues that had to be addressed later.
- The Lighting Effects filter added some more warmth to the image. Last week I did a blog on this filter – this week Colin Smith came out with a new video called Lighting Photos in Photoshop – add Stunning Sunset Lighting. I felt like it did a good job on this image.
- There were several places with some color discoloration on the water – used a tip I learned from Randy van Duinen. This is the best way to fix it when faced with type of color distortion: make a rough selection of problem area and enter the Quick Mask Tool, go to Gaussian Blur Filter set to a large amount for blending edges (depends on size of selection), go out of Quick Mask, and add a Curves Adjustment Layer (or any Adjustment layer needed) and adjust all the channel curves to match up. See my How to Subtle Adjust Areas of an Image Using Two Methods blog for more on this. This is one of my favorite PS tricks.
- There was a little haloing where the clouds met the treetops – it really was not haloing but it looked bad. To smooth the colors between the clouds and the trees, David Belliveau’s fabulous mixer blender brush was used at a small size – it can be downloaded at his Painter website. The brush is one of the best for blending anything.
- Several areas were accented with a little spotlight effect – set a layer to Overlay blend mode and Brush Options set to 100% Opacity and 9% Flow. Just dab where a little brightness (or darkness or color) needs to be added.
- Last step was to create a little vignette. Since this sunset makes the image off-balance, the vignette techniques I usually like did not work. Went back to Jimmy McIntyre and followed his The Power of Vignettes in Photoshop where he uses two different Curves Adjustment Layers to create the vignette. This technique worked the best and gave a more natural look.
Well that is it for this blog – just a little landscape jargon. Hope everyone is safe and still enjoying learning new things that can be done with Photoshop. I am slowly trying out some recently viewed video techniques – many were used above. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I did some video viewing and trying out the Lighting Effects Filter again. Colin Smith from Photoshop Cafe did a set of 5 videos on this filter the last few weeks. This filter has been around for a while (it is exactly the same in CS6) and I have used it on and off over the years. Colin is an expert at using this filter, and there is a lot more to it than what it appears to be and what I knew.
Colin Smith had one particular video I felt was extremely helpful for lightening the Squirrel Monkey image above and the Butterfly image below. It was called Lighting Portrait Photos in Photoshop, Its Amazing – Part 2. The other videos are definitely worth the time to watch if you are enjoying using this filter, but this one was the most helpful to me. An Alpha Channel selection to limit the effect to just certain areas in the image was not created for my images (but is discussed in great detail in the other videos and looks great on some images), but several minutes into the video Colin shows you how to adjust the lights and use the filter.
Basic adjustments: The above image is of a Squirrel Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo. To use the Lighting Effects Filter (Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects), it is best to begin with a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) that has been turned into a Smart Object (or Filter – they are the same thing). It is good to use it as a Smart Object so the settings can be re-adjusted after applying the effect. A default Spot Light is shown when the filter is first opened. Dragging your mouse around the points on the light give you several options for adjusting the actual light (Move, Rotate, and Scale Width or change its size).
Available lights: Three types of lights were added in the above: Spot Light, Infinite Light and Point Light – Colin goes into detail on each of these types of lights in the 5 videos, but he seems to prefer the Spot Light effect. If you look in the Options Bar Presets drop-down, the first one listed is called 2 o’clock and is a good starting place. (There are many choices in the drop-down menu – check out the Adobe link below for the list.) An Infinite Light was added to basically just lighten up the whole image. The Point Light was just a small light placed on his face to brighten it up a little more.
To get good results: Need to just go back and forth making adjustments between the “Color and Intensity slider” and the “Colorize (swatch for tint of the overall lighting) and Exposure slider (controls highlight and shadow detail).” Clicking on the color swatches bring up a Color Picker with an adjustable Intensity slider which makes the color lighter and is using 32-bit lighting (per Colin).
Other sliders: There is a Texture field that does not have to be added to your image but it can really help an image that is lacking a little in detail. First set in the Texture field drop-down the Red Channel (it appears to be the best channel to use for this) and a Height of 1 (if you want texture to be in the other direction, use -1) – it really sharpened up this guys fur. Moving the Height slider too much can give some really weird looks. For a natural look keep it to 1 or 2. The Metallic and Gloss sliders work mainly as contrast sliders. Ambience is one of my favorite sliders as it lightens up or darkens the surrounding areas around the lighting edges.
This filter requires a lot of playing with sliders, which is what I really like to do! For more info on the post-processing of the Monkey, check out the end of the blog. Here is the Adobe Photoshop link to the Lighting Effects Filter.
This image is of a Malay Lacewing Butterfly (took this pix at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, Florida) and was much easier to post process. (See post-info at end of blog). Used a stamped layer that was turned into a Smart Object before selecting the Lighting Effects Filter. A single Spot Light was added – similar to the giraffe image below. No Texture field was added since textures were added before on other layers in PS. The light was directed to the left side of the wing where the light was naturally falling onto the butterfly.
A couple tips when using the Light Effects Filter:
- It is a little cumbersome to use and sometimes it is hard to adjust the lights. To zoom out, click on the bottom left corner and change the amount in box to zoom, or hold the ALT key with the scroll wheel (this did not always work for me).
- When the interface is in the way so you cannot tell what you are looking at, do a CTRL+H to toggle the tools on and off.
- When I open this filter an awful scary dialog box called Embedded Profile Mismatch comes up – just click Cancel to use the filter. Get same dialog when applying the filter – still clicked Cancel and it applied the filter. Not sure if anyone else will see this, but this does work.
- Need to be in 8-bit mode to use this filter now (used to be also for 16-bit, but no more).
- For a dreamy glow effect, set the Metallic slider to -100 and then move the Gloss slider towards the right to achieve a nice result.
The above is an image I had shown before, but it used the Lighting Effect Filter. This bronze giraffe sculpture is part of the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm Beach and was created by Henry Mitchell in 1959 – and was one of my favorites at the Garden. To get this effect and see what Lighting Effects filter settings were used, check out my How to Get a Fantasy Feel in Photoshop blog that shows a Screenshot of the filter. You will see in the older blog that a Red Channel was used for a Texture and the Height was set to 9 to emphasize the really nice markings on the giraffes. In this case it is okay to set the Height slider amount up a little.
Below is another older image taken at Flagler Beach in Florida and the Lighting Filter Effect was used for adding a little sunlight effect in a painted image sky. It shows a different way the filter can be used to add some artistic interest.
Since this is a Photoshop filter, it is an easy one to try out and produces some really terrific lighting results. And since photography is all about light, it has a lot of possibilities. I have used it for years on and off, and I am going to try it out some more now that I have learned a few more things about how to use it. Hope everyone is doing fine and will be able to get out and start taking pictures soon……Digital Lady Syd
Image Post-Processing Details:
Squirrel Monkey Image: To begin this image, a texture group was created using FrenchKiss’s Stone Blush texture (these are fabulous painted textures) and Kim Klassen’s Epic texture (and yes, Kim is doing her wonderful textures again). The textures were put in a Group and set to 30% opacity – this gave the image a really beautiful pastel spring-like feel. The monkey was selected and place on top and lots of clean up was done, including adding some fur in strategic places (used coyotemange brushes Rough Tuft and Long Fur from last week’s blog). Next on a stamped layer Skylum (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Luminar 4’s Sky Replacement look for this image was applied – it found all the white areas and added in the sky – totally Amazing! On another Smart Object stamped layer, the Lighting Effects Filter in PS was added. This really sharpened up his fur by setting the Texture field to Red Channel (appears to be the best default channel to use for this) and a Height of 1. A Spot Light was used first on the whole image. Next an Infinite Light basically just lightened up everything. Last a Point Light was just a small one placed on his face to brighten it up only and get that backlit feel. The rest of the image was the standard clean up layer, Curves Adjustment Layer, and Levels Vignette.
Butterfly Image: Just used Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Sharpen AI (love this filter) and Topaz DeNoise AI first. Then added a texture called BB Orange and Gold Bokeh (not sure where I got it as it is from 2008) set to Overlay blend mode at 72% layer opacity – duplicated texture and set it to 17% blend mode. On a new layer painted in some Bokeh circles sampling the colors from the texture (used a brush from MiniPixBox-Bokeh 34). Did some clean up and the image just looked a little drab to me. On a stamped layer turned into a Smart Object, the Lighting Effects Filter was opened – only a single Spot Light effect was added – similar to the giraffe filter settings. No Texture was added – here are my settings on a Spot Light set from upper left to lower center right: Color White and Intensity 26, Hotspot 22, Colorize (light yellow H58/S27/B75 and Intensity +1.50) and Exposure -76, Gloss -32, Metallic -6, and Ambience 26. It definitely added the light in the area on the wing where the light was coming onto it.
I was going to do a review of the updated Sharpen AI, but decided instead to write about when to use all these fabulous Topaz AI plugins since I think it is personally very confusing. I actually had this blog half-drafted a whole year ago and did not publish it as I could not figure out exactly what was going on. This week I finally got some answers in a couple Topaz (see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog for website link) Webinars that Joel Wolfson did in the last few months. So here is my take on what is going on and how I am using these products.
Always apply Topaz DeNoise AI (or any denoise product for that matter) first before applying Topaz Sharpen AI (or any sharpening filter) – you do not want to sharpen any noise residing in your image. Lots of photographers do their RAW processing first, then use DeNoise AI, and finally apply Sharpen AI – both programs can be reached directly from ACR, Lightroom, OnOne, and several other software programs or from within Photoshop as a plugin.
Topaz DeNoise AI
They have upgraded DeNoise AI several times since it was first released a year ago. It has been greatly improved with each revision. DeNoise AI also includes AI Clear and I will discuss that in more detail below.
So why use DeNoise AI? It is especially good for images set to a higher ISO, especially with lots of dark areas like night images. More noise will show up in the shadows and with the newer cameras especially, the ISO can be cranked way up to get that all-important detail. DeNoise AI has the ability to find just the noise in the darker (or lighter areas) areas and leave other noise-free areas alone. I have an older DSLR camera and the higher ISO setting images show lots of noise – this program has been a life-saver for me as I want to take those night-time shots too. The image above was taken in low evening light using 2000 ISO, which is unheard of for me and my camera. Below is the screenshot of what DeNoise AI was able to do to clean up this image – it may appear a little soft looking here, but at 100% it is still pretty sharp.
What the Sliders Do:
First, turn off the Auto-update preview or your computer will go nuts running all the time – just remember to click Update when ready to see the changes. Also note that at the top there is a Brightness button – it sometimes helps to see the noise better. To me the Auto button does not recognize the correct amount of noise in my images, so I do not use it. When adjusting these sliders manually, I usually over-adjust the Remove Noise amount, then move it back to the correct setting. And yes, keep hitting the Update button to see the change if Auto Update is turned off. What does the Sharpen slider do if there is a Recover Original Detail slider? According to Topaz, “It sharpens the details in your image since removing noise can sometimes soften the details in images, this allows you to retain that sharpness after processing your image.” The Recover Original Detail slider allows for refinement of details in the image to achieve a more realistic look if it appears that DeNoise AI has over-corrected the image. Still not clear on this, but it does seems to improved some images. It helps add some detail back when the image looks too smooth, especially with Portrait images – it definitely helped this flower image too. Looking at other images, it appears most people use Recover Original Detail somewhere around 25 to 35 for a setting. If there is color noise in your image, moving the Color Noise Reduction slider is very useful – a Size slider will appear where you must decide how much more of the image each pixel will look at – Joel says 0.50 is a good setting for this.
TOPAZ SHARPEN AI
The above image also had Topaz Sharpen AI applied after Topaz DeNoise AI from above. This is turning out to my very favorite Topaz product because I do not often shoot with a tripod and it has saved me on many occasions. One thing Joel pointed out is that when you are looking at your image set to 100% in Topaz, it is really the equivalent of looking at your image at 200% in Photoshop or other image processors. So if your image looks a little “crunchy,” it will not look like that at 100% in Photoshop. I do believe I get some really tack sharp images with this filter and often do not use DeNoise at all, but go directly to this filter before doing any other post work. One down side about this filter is that it takes a while to process and the larger the image, the longer it will take to Update and Apply.
What the Sliders Do:
So more confusion here. Personally I do not use the regular Sharpen mode – it corrects for just general out-of-camera softness and does not do too much for my photos. But usually I will try both the Stabilize Mode (for motion blur or camera shake issues) and Focal Mode (great for bringing an eye in really sharp focus – corrects up to 10 pixels of focus blur). Sometimes one gives better results than the other. I will use the Auto button as a starting point for this filter – it appears to be a little better than DeNoise AI’s. Also, turn off the Auto-update Preview if you do not want to update every time you move a slider or the image – just remember to click Update when ready to see the changes. Obviously the Sharpness slider will sharpen. But why yet another Suppress Noise slider? Topaz says it is to help remove noise so I am not sure why they put it here when they have DeNoise AI. I have found that if I do not quite remove all the noise in DeNoise AI because I am losing too much detail, by going into Sharpen AI, the noise can be adjusted a little more accurately to keep the sharpness tack sharp. But that is a bit of a pain to do. I never use the Add Grain.
Here is the best part about this filter – it now has masking capabilities and you can paint in just where you want the sharpness to be applied. So if you are doing a portrait and want the eyes sharper, just adjust the whole image for the eyes only, then click on the brush icon at the top, adjust the brush size, and paint out the eye only. The rest of the image stays just how it was. This is a fabulous addition. I like that you do not have to sharpen the background of an image to get a really sharp foreground such as a bird or animal in the foreground. The brush has settings for Edge Aware, Radius Size, Softness, and Opacity. A red Overlay can be turned on and off to show where the mask is being applied and a small mask window appears in the bottom right. Just click apply mask, click update again, and Apply.
In the DeNoise AI filter, there is an AI Clear Model. This is supposed to be exactly the same filter as the one that is in Topaz Studio – one big difference is that you can adjust the View with the Scroll Bar in Studio while you must use the parameters Topaz gives in you in DeNoise AI – mainly 100% and 200% are the most useful. I will not go over all the settings as there is an overlap between them and the DeNoise AI sliders – basically one is simplified for quick use. Below is a screenshot of the red flower using only the AI Clear filter in Topaz Studio and using the extra Exposure and Clarity sliders.
I personally like having the other two sliders to help adjust the lost contrast that denoising causes. Also, I noticed that the Recover Details did not work well on this image using either filter. Below is an image of Piccadilly Circus in London after AI Clear (Remove Noise High, Enhance Sharpness High and Recover Details 55) and Topaz Sharpen AI (Model Stabilize, Manual mode, Sharpness 100 and Noise 100) was used. For some reason, when Topaz DeNoise AI Mode was applied it lost a lot of the detail, especially of the very back building.
Here is a screenshot of part of the original so you can see all the noise in the image – it was taken at ISO 1600 and F/7.1. I was totally surprised that AI Clear would do a better job, but it did here. I would suggest trying both modes in DeNoise AI if you do not the like the results of one of them.
What is the difference between DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI?
From Topaz website “DeNoise AI uses AI algorithms specifically made for digital noise removal. Its sharpening functionality is used primarily to smooth out any artifacts created during the process, and aren’t nearly as advanced as Sharpen AI, whose AI algorithms are custom built for focusing images.”
What is the difference between Sharpen AI and AI Clear?
From Topaz website “The Stabilize (shake reduction) and Focus (focus correction) modes in Sharpen AI have no AI Clear alternatives. These modes serve the purpose of InFocus classic plugin (with better results) rather than pure output sharpening.
The Sharpen module in Sharpen AI does have similarities with AI Clear. The difference here is a bit more subtle and come from the training process between these two products. AI Clear was trained on images with generally more noise, whereas Sharpen AI was trained on images with generally less noise but more blur. Resulting in AI Clear’s main detection is noise whereas Sharpen AI’s main detection is to recognize blur. This makes Clear optimal for noisy images and Sharpen more effective for a bit more blurry images.”
What is the difference between DeNoise AI and AI Clear?
Joel answered this question and I have found it very helpful. Most DSLR camera’s have a low pass filter in front of the sensor which blurs the image a little. AI Clear is basically a Capture Sharpening and he personally applies it on every normal image first thing. He does not need a lot of denoising or sharpening, but just a little. I know I have used AI Clear in Topaz Studio (he uses it from DeNoise AI) for a long time and it is one of my favorite filters. You should use DeNoise AI when there is a bigger noise issue.
Use DeNoise AI for images that just have too noise. The Sharpen slider adds back any softness that the filter may have caused, but it has limited capabilities.
Use Topaz Sharpen AI to fix up any images that are a little soft from shake or lack of focus. Especially useful for helping images that were hand-held. The DeNoise slider in this tool does not seem to be as robust as using DeNoise AI’s Remove Noise slider but does work some.
Use Topaz AI Clear (in Topaz Studio or DeNoise AI) for capture sharpening at its default settings for most images. Just really sharpens them up the right amount and helps with the final look.
For me Topaz Sharpen AI may be the best filter on the market right now – it is totally incomparable IMHO! The new Masking Brush is just an added bonus. By having the Suppress Noise slider, it will find any excess noise that was missed in DeNoise AI. I would definitely get this filter if I did not already own it. I think DeNoise is a fabulous program but it is not usually my issue. AI Clear does a wonderful job in Topaz Studio for me so I stick with it. I believe if I upgrade my camera soon, DeNoise AI may be much more important since I will be using those higher ISO settings, but right now, AI Clear fixes most of my noise issues.
Hope this cleared up a bit of the confusion on these filters. It has been a struggle for me to figure out when and which one to use. Have another great week and I hope everyone is catching up on some of that post work that seems to be always waiting for you! ….. Digital Lady Syd
To keep busy I have been watching a lot of videos, especially some drawing videos by Aaron Blaise, possibly the greatest wildlife illustrator around (and he has some great deals on his site right now), and Johannes Vloothuis, a fabulous painter and teacher (he creates these great “paint-along” videos using regular paint media, but the information applies to digital painting very nicely). Also this week I did try to get a bit creative with my photography and made a small black box out of cardboard to scan some of my yard flowers.
- Took a small cardboard box (7″ X 10″) and cut the bottom and top off of it. Then cut down the sides so they were only 3″ tall. With some flat black matte spray paint, sprayed the inside of the box. Also sprayed one side of a flat piece of cardboard to use as a top – made it a little larger than the inside of the box. (Note: in the related blog at end, a black sunglass case was used as a black box for a small bloom.)
- Plucked a couple flowers off my Plumbago Plants growing outside and pulled a couple of leaves off also.
- Put the black box on the scanner with the top off and laid out my flowers and leaves. Put the black top piece facing down on the cardboard box.
- Fired up my old scanner (a 16-year old Epson Perfection 3200 scanner – I can’t believe Amazon still has it????) that is actually working fine – set the resolution to 3200 and tiff output.
And a rather interesting image appeared! I really liked the soft look of the flowers it created.
Issues to Look Out For
- The scanner software I use is called VueScan X64 which was bought ages ago. They continually upgrade it and it has always worked for me until their latest upgrade in March – I had to remove it and go back to the earlier version. I guess my scanner model is getting too old so just beware when upgrading your scanner software.
- I tried a few different arrangements. Found out that these flowers wilt very quickly, so you have to do this pretty quickly or pick more fresh blossoms to scan.
- I had not cleaned my scanner glass very well and it was also dusty even under the glass. Be sure to clean the top of the glass before doing your scanning. I have no idea how to clean the inside area.
There were lots of white dots showing up in my image with the black background. Luckily Photoshop came to the rescue. To get rid of these nasty white dots, went to Filter -> Noise -> Median and set the Radius to 2. It can be previewed easily while you adjust the slider. This got rid of most of the dots. Just remember the filter also softens up your image just like any noise filter does so don’t overdo it. A layer mask was added and the areas to keep sharp were painted back. Since there were still a few white dots left over and on some of the flowers painted back in, a New Layer twas added for the Spot Healing Brush to finish the clean up process. I could not believe how well this worked.
The image was sharpened using Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI before doing the white dot clean up – it definitely did help sharpen up the blossoms. The vintage border was from Heybing Supply Company. A little dodging and burning was done using lighten and darken Curves Adjustment Layers – painted in where the dodging and burning should occur using black layer masks. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog for more on this.)
What I liked about the black box effect is that the colors of the flowers were pretty close to what the blossoms really looked like. A slight depth-of-field was obtained with this method which I found rather pleasing. Lots of fun but I did learn a few things along the way. Hope everyone is doing well and trying out some new techniques! Have a great week creating! ….. Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Scanning a Bloom for a Different Look
This post was going to be a review about one of my favorite filters, the now updated Topaz Sharpen AI filter that contains a brush for creating a mask to locally sharpen certain areas of the image. There appears to be a few bugs yet so I am not ready to review it. Instead I went back into my archive to find some new things to work on during this stay-at-home time. Therefore this week is going to be just a short blog on getting a little detail into an image, in this case some Jellyfish images. Hum!
The Moon Jellyfish image above seems to be both creepy and beautiful at the same time. (Their body is white in color, round, and very transparent so when the sun or the moon is shining on them, they look just like a lit-up moon.) What was really interesting to me was how to get all the nooks and crannies of this image to look as transparent as the jellyfish really looked. The Camera Raw Filter was opened and a free Profile in a Sparklestock set called Lemon – Pumpkin 02 profile at 106% was selected (they have many great presets and all have free samples). Then the basic sliders were adjusted so that the background was a little darker and the light lines showed up a better. Some Texture and Clarity were also added. Since I did not have my Topaz Sharpen AI working, I decided to use my back-up which never lets me down – Luminar 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link). It has also been recently updated for Landscapes or Portraits. Sometimes the AI Enhance Tool is used, but in this case it was lightening up the background too much. The AI Structure Tool (Amount 73 and Boost 43) and painted in a mask where on the areas needing sharpening was used first. Then applied the Details Enhancer Tool (Small Details 49, Medium Details 25, and Large Details 37). These are usually the only two filters needed to get some great detail from Luminar. Now here is a great trick when working with objects with thin lines – go into Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio 2 and apply the Edges Filter. This filter can do wonders to give a little more edge to objects. In this case these filters and settings were used: AI Clear: Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Exposure 0.02 and Clarity 0.40 (I still love this filter in Studio and just by adding a little Clarity here helped quite a bit in this case); and Edges: Edge Type – Monochrome Line, Edge Tone – Light, Edge Strength – 0.67, Simplify Edge – 0.04, Suppress Weak Edges – 0.35, Suppress Small Edge 0.84, Edge Thickness 0.12, and Edge Resolution – 0.84 – painted off any long white lines which looked over the top. That was basically all that was done on this image, but the sharpening process turned out really good.
So for this image the following items were used to add the detail: (1) Camera Raw Filter and the Texture and Clarity sliders in particular; (2) Luminar 4 using their AI Structure and Details Enhancer Tools; and (3) Topaz Studio 2’s AI Clear (especially the Clarity slider) and Edges Filters.
This image is of a more traditional looking Jellyfish, the kind I have seen in the ocean before. This time a more painterly effect was applied and most of this was done in Topaz Studio 2 where the more artistic filters can be found. This time an older version of Topaz Sharpen AI (Model: Stylize at Sharpness 0.90 and Suppress Noise 0.20) was used to do my initial sharpening – and it did a great job. Luminar 4 was applied on a stamped layer and the Dramatic set Mystic Look preset was applied which gave it an overall painterly feel. Then on another stamped layer Topaz Studio 2 was opened and AI Clear applied – Remove Noise: Auto, Enhance Sharpness: High, and Clarity 0.78. Next the wonderful Edges filter set to 100 Opacity, Multiply blend mode, Edge Type Monchrome Edge, but this time Edge Tone: Dark instead of Light as above. All the other sliders refine the original Edge Strength (0.78) setting: Simplify Edge 0.40, Suppress Weak Edges 0, Suppress Small Edges: 0.00, Edge Thickness 0.40, and Edge Resolution 1.00. In layer mask with brush set to Transparency 0.50, Radius 0.03, Softness 0.50 and Edge Aware On, painted effect off in a mask where the lines were just too dark – this still left an enhanced line but was not as obvious. The Impression filter was set to Type 13, Background Color Original in Texture section, and in inverted layer mask, just painted over the top of the Jellyfish with brush at 0.78 Transparency. Back in PS, the background was created by using 3 different colors on 3 different layers using the Shadowhouse Creations texture brush set to a large size (it was the 2nd example created in my recent How to Create a Texture Brush to Match a Texture blog). Then put layers in a group and set it to 82% layer opacity. On a New Layer on top, the top part of the Jellyfish was smoothed with a Mixer brush. Then on another New Layer, a small brush was used to add in some of the tentacle lines that were missing. Text was Hardwired Script Update and it was a lot of fun to use – the creator added in many variations for the letters. Still more clean up, but these were pretty much the steps. Once again Studio’s Edges filter was a great help.
For this image, these detailed items were used: (1) Topaz Sharpen AI; (2) Topaz Studio 2’s AI Clear and Edges filters; and (3) actually drew in any small lines that needed emphasis using a tiny small brush.
More Moon Jellyfish – this time in a sepia tone. Did initial sharpening in Lightroom using the Detail Panel before applying the old Nik Silver Efex Pro filter to the image. Just the default preset was used to start and then changes were made using Toning Preset 9 to give a slightly bluish look. Back in PS the image was inverted (CTRL+I on the image). A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using a Color Negative Device Link preset (not sure if this is from PS or not) set to Hue – it added the nice sepia effect. The Moon is from Rule by Art (in Design Cuts Planet-Space-Explosion-Background and Ancient Texture set) and it was also adjusted to match the Jellyfish using the same Silver Efex Pro and Color Lookup Adjustment Layer settings. Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to the Foggy Night preset at 63% layer opacity and Overlay blend mode. Used the same Hardwired Script Update font. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back.
In this case, the only sharpening needed was in Camera Raw. It is interesting to see that each image had such different requirements.
Hope everyone is taking it easy and trying out some new techniques. That is what I was trying to do with my images – try a few different things and see what I like. It is actually nice to be able to slow down and think about this – just hope it is not for too long. Stay safe!…..Digital Lady Syd
As most of you know, I have been working on learning to paint in both Photoshop and Corel for a long time – it is a very challenging process and sometimes I do resort to using my favorite Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) filters to use with my paintings. While playing with Topaz Studio 2 recently, I discovered several filters that could be combined to create very colorful and painterly looking images out of black and white ones. I have blogged several times on how to colorize black and whites (see end of blog for lots of links), but with a few of the Topaz Studio filters, very nice painting effects can be achieved fairly quickly.
All the blog images used a Studio “Look” to get the colored effect. Looks can contain many different filters so different results can be achieved. The really cool thing is that each filter in the Look can be manipulated individually and additional filters can be added to get an effect. And these Looks are saved just like a Filter preset is saved so it can be used over several times. That is what I did with a Look I call my SJ BW to Painted Color. I would post it to their community, but I do not believe they are doing this at the moment. Therefore, I will share the settings below so if you want to create the Topaz Studio basic Look and save it, you are welcome to use it.
The top image is called “Cowhands Singing after Day’s Work” – Quarter Circle U Ranch roundup in June 1939 – thank you Shorpy for finding this gorgeous image! (If you love historical images, you have got to check out Shorpy.) Click the link to see the original black and white image. See Image 1 (Cowboys Image) for all the details on how this image totally post-processed.
IMPORTANT: With old images, the size and resolution needs to be reviewed first – most have resolutions like 3200 pixels/inch since they were probably scanned. Go to Image -> Image Size and set Resolution to 300 ppi – the size can go really crazy like 0.5 X 0.7 inches so uncheck Resample, next look at the sizes and change if needed, then recheck Resample before exiting – the image will downsize and upsize just fine in PS. And always do your Topaz Studio changes on a duplicate layer since it does not support Smart Objects.
Topaz Studio Basic Looks Settings for these Images
The screenshot shows a different image I am working on (a B&W Shorpy image called Cathedral Place at Charlotte Street, Plaza de la Constitucion, St. Augustine from 1906) where a screenshot of the settings was taken as they appear in Studio. See how there are 8 filters included and two additional filters added on top (Color Theme and Edges again). For the Cowboy image,
This could get long but here we go – wish the Community was available for downloading it. My Look is saved in a Look Category called My Looks and contains only ones I created since Topaz Studio 2 was introduced. I go in and automatically Apply the Look. Right away the image I am working on looks pretty good. At this stage, the Opacity could be adjusted and just use it as it is. I would normally start off adjusting the top AI ReMix filter and then go into Impression before changing the other filters. If the colors or effect still does not look right, another AI ReMix is added (turned on my Look’s since one is toggled on and other one is off in the Look). But since I am giving you my settings, lets start with the bottom filter and build it up.
Filter 1: All Clear – set to Opacity 0.10, Normal blend mode, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Recover Details 0.10, Exposure 0.31 and Clarity 0.85. Now if the image needs less sharpness or it looks crunchy, you can always adjust these settings or turn it off if not needed. Note that I set the Opacity very low as I felt it most images don’t need much with all the manipulation being done, but it is very easy to change this.
Filter 2: AI ReMix – this is the turned off one. Mine is set to Opacity 0.71, Normal blend mode, Neon Rose Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.31, Contrast 1.26, Sat 0.75, Hue -0.10, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.64, Suppress Artifacts 0. These are probably the settings I was using on a different image a while ago and never reset the filter. But at least it is a starting point for adding some different effects. As you can see, ReMix is where the color is picked up by the image. For my image I will turn it off again as it was not too good on it.
Filter 3: AI ReMix – this is the ReMix filter I use most of the time but change the style. My default is set to Opacity 0.25, Overlay blend mode, Beige Sketch Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.82, and Suppress Artifacts 0. All these settings are changed depending on the image. The Ballerina image used the Cotton Candy Style and it gave a totally different color and overall effect.
Filter 4: Edges – this filter may or may not be useful – need to turn it on and off to see if it helps or if Dark edges are better than the Light ones. Here are the settings: Opacity 1.00, Screen blend mode, Edge Type Color Edge, Edge Tone Light, Edge Strength 0.51, Simplify Edge 0, Suppress Weak Edges 0.09, Suppress Small Edges 0.02, Edge Thickness 0.16, and Edge Resolution 1.00.
Filter 5: Glow – this filter can make a huge difference in your image so be sure to turn it on and off to see what it is doing. Currently set to Opacity 0.85, Overlay blend mode, Glow Primary, Primary Glow Type Dark, Primary Glow Strength 0.62, Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87, Primary Electrify 0.45, Primary Simplify Details 0.66, Primary Edge Color 0, Primary Detail Strength -1.00, Primary Detail Size 0.05, Primary Brightness 0, Primary Contrast 0, Primary Saturation 0.72, Primary Line Rotation 0, Primary Glow Spread 0.80; Finishing Touches – Effect Coverage 0, Coverage Transition, 0.50, Sharpness 0, and Sharp Radius 0.10.
Filter 6: HSL Color Tuning – Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Color – Red Hue 0.29, Saturation -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange Saturation 0.51, Yellow Sat -0.3, and Blue Hue -0.32; Details 0, Suppress Artifacts 0, and Color Sensitivity 0. These all need to be adjusted depending on how the image is getting colorized.
Filter 7: Impression – I believe this is Topaz default settings except I like Stroke Type 03; I will give the settings anyway as these are the ones I like. Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Brush Type 03, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.50, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation 0, Rotation Variation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0, Stroke Length 0, Spill 0, Smudge 0, Coverage 1.00, and Painting Progress 1.00; Color – no changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture – no changes except Background Type set to Original.
Filter 8: Precision Contrast – I do not always use this one and often I will add Detail filter on top instead. Opacity 0.51; Normal blend mode; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78, and High -0.54; Lighting – Shadow 0, Midtone 0, Highlight 0, and Equalization 0; and Color – Saturation -0.52, Vibrance 0, and Color Contrast 0.
Now you can add any individual Filters and maybe another Look on top of these settings if you want. You can also add new filters into the Look and save another Look. This is a very flexible process and has so many possibilities.
The above original black and white image was called “Ballerinas on Window Sill in Rehearsal Room at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet” from 1936 – it was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine and appears to be a Getty image now. The original image used was very small so it was taken into Topaz Gigapixel to make it larger – 4 X was used (I mention this program as it is fabulous for this type of issue). Then the file was opened in Photoshop. Since it was still a very small image, the resolution was set to 300 and the size increased to roughly 6″ by 8″ (need to uncheck Resample to change the size, then recheck. Then Topaz Studio was opened on a duplicate layer and the “Look” applied. I have gone through all the individual steps in Image 2 below if you are interested. This one took a little more effort than the others – some just are easier to do.
This image taken by Jean Eugene Auguste Atget of the “Passage des Singes, seen towards rue Vieille-du-Temple, 4th arrondissement, Paris” in 1911 and was provided by the City of Paris Museum. This is the original image used to create my Looks settings above – it was taken from a Topaz Studio 1 preset and migrated over to Topaz Studio 2. For more info, check Image 3 (Paris image) below. Basically wanted to show what a nice landscape type image can be obtained using these same basic settings.
I hope you will try this – it really amazed me how realistic the painting results were. I do think I get better results in Corel Painter, but it does have a very large learning curve and takes a while to get the brushes down. I am not sure PS has these effects down, although they are making great strides toward getting it. And the interesting thing is that Topaz packed all these creative filters together for you – you cannot get these type results without combining Topaz ReMix, Impression, Glow and mixing in a few others. And don’t forget the to try the Topaz ReStyle filter. I will be working on a few more images to show you but for now, if you own Topaz Studio 2, give it a try. (And actually you might be able to do it with Topaz Studio 1). This is really so much fun to do! Have a great week……Digital Lady Syd
Image 1 (Cowboy Image): After duplicating the background layer in Photoshop, the image was opened in Topaz Studio 2 where my Look was applied. The following changes were done to my Look: AI ReMix: Changed Style to Market Street at 0.23 filter Opacity and Overlay blend mode; Glow: Opacity 0.85, Primary Glow Strength 0.42, and Primary Electrify 0.11; Edges: turned off; Impression: 50% Opacity; and the Additional Filters – Color Theme filter: changed the second color swatch to more of a red color (37400c); and Detail: Overall – Overall Small Detail 0.61. Note that the second AI ReMix was not used as it is turned off but present in my Look since sometimes I need two of them. Back in PS the biggest problem facing the image was the color of the grass in the front – it was blown out. Color was added by setting a layer to Color blend mode and painting with a soft round brush a sampled tan color over all the grass – tried not to go into the face areas. Next one of my favorite Color Lookup Adjustment Layer presets called Foggy Night (a PS preset) was set to 43% layer opacity. This really softened down the overall effect. Then a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast in the midtones (0.78) and clip a little of the black (Output Levels 0/229). Next a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer (Master: Sat +62 and Lightness +3) was used to add just a bit of color into the skin areas of the cowboys – the layer mask was inverted to black and just areas needed were painted back. Last step was a Color Balance Adjustment Layer (Midtones +17/-12/-55, Highlights 0/-12/-55, and no change to Shadows) for the grass – black layer mask and grass painted back.
Image 2 (Ballerina Image): Going to go into detail here so you can what can be done to get a really nice painterly effect. After resizing the black and white image, Topaz DeNoise AI was applied on a New Layer. On another New Layer changes were made in Studio to my Look preset: AI ReMix: 0.30 Opacity, Overly blend mode, Cotton Candy Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 0.20, and Sharpness 1.00; Edge: Set Opacity to 0.76; Impression: In layer mask, painted back the 2nd ballerina’s face and part of the closest ballerina’s back – used a brush in layer mask set to 0.69 transparency; Precision Contrast: Opacity 0.10; and added Filter: Texture: Opacity 0.24; Selected Rainbow Leak 4; Brightness 0.06, and Contrast -0.02. Back in PS, Topaz ReStyle was used to adjust the color tone a little. Created a preset called Ballerinas using the colors now in image and placed it in my Colors from Images collection: ReStyle Opacity 68% and Color blend mode, Color Style Sat Primary 0.06, Secondary 0.08, Fourth -0.09, and Fifth 0.22; and Lum Secondary -0.02, Third 0.63, Fourth 0.33 and Fifth 0.31; and Texture 1.00; Basic Color Temp 0.23 and Sat -0.16; Tone Black Level 0.09, Midtones 0.33 and White Level -0.06; and Detail Structure 0.36 and Sharpness 0.30. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using Joel Grimes Soft and Desaturated preset set to 30% opacity. Some clean up layers were used to even out some of the face distortions caused by Studio Impression. A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was used and set to 57% layer opacity. A Selective Color Adjustment Color was opened and the Whites and Neutrals were used to add a little cyan to the sky outside the window. Viveza 2 was used to sharpen up the paint strokes in the ballet skirts. a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer at 12% layer opacity was added on top to adjust the color – had trouble getting the effect just the way I wanted it. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and 47% layer opacity was added. A Levels Adjustment Layer was the last step and a Gradient Tool was applied to the layer mask going from black to transparency so only the front two ballerinas were affected by these changes – it also emphasized the stroke more on the front ballerinas.
Image 3 (Paris Image): Well this image took a while to complete since I was experimenting and trying to get a nice “Look” together that would be somewhat useful to all types of black and white images. I started with a Look using a Cartoon Look I had created in Topaz Studio 1 that contained the HSL Color Tuning, Glow, Edges, AI ReMix twice and AI Clear filters. (See my Best Friends Tidbits blog for where I used it first.) The settings are slightly different from the above Looks settings so I will list them. HSL Color Tuning: Red – Hue 0.29, Sat -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange – Sat 0.50; Yellow – Sat -32; and Blue – Hue -0.32. Glow: Set to Overlay at 0.85 Opacity; Primary – Glow Type: Dark; Primary Glow Strength 0.62; Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87; Primary Electrify 0.45; Primary Simplify Details 0.66; Primary Detail Strength -1.00; Primary Detail Size 0.05; Primary Contrast 0.29; Primary Saturation 0.72; and Primary Glow Spread 0.80. Edges: Set to Screen blend mode; Edge Type – Color Edge; Edge Tone Light; Edge Strength 0.51; Simplify Edge 0; Suppress Weak Edges 0; Suppress Small Edge 0.02; Edge Thickness 0.02; and Edge Resolution 1.00. First AI ReMix: Set to 0.25 Opacity and Overlay blend mode; used Beige Sketch preset; Style Strength – High; Brightness -0.61; Contrast 1.65; Sat 1.69; Smooth Edge 0.20; and Sharpness 0.82; Second AI ReMix: turned off; AI Clear: Opacity 0.19, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High; Recover Details 0.10; Exposure 0.31, and Clarity 0.85; and on top of the Look, added Impression filter with my SJ Basic Favorite preset (Stroke: type 03; Number of Strokes – High, Brush Size 0.50; Paint Opacity 0.50; Coverage 1.00 using Original Background Type in Texture section). Next Filter: Precision Contrast – Opacity 0.50; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78 and High -0.55; and Color Sat -0.50. Back in PS French Kiss Spring Impasto texture was added and set to Linear Light at 45% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the texture and Master-Saturation was set to 100. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped on top of it to contrast back to the image (Midpoint set to 0.92 and white tab Output Levels set to 174). (See my How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color blog and short video.) Then a Light Gesso layer style I had purchased from Kyle Webster before he became famous at PS was used to add some extra painterly strokes into the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added last.(See my How to Create an Impasto Texture Layer Style blog and video.)
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Colorizing NASA Photos and Using Topaz Studio (And Check out Updated Detail)
Get the Boy Something He Wants
Abandoned Texaco Station
A Cowboy in Montana
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!
This week I found yet another pretty easy painter effect to use. And what I liked best is that the steps can be altered to use your own resources. The post is called How to Create a Photoshop Painting by Ivan Gromov at Envato Tutorials. (If you want, for a small fee an action can be bought to set up this painting effect.) A short video and very good written steps are provided. Also for free two brushes, a texture and an overlay are provided. This is where you can get very creative – instead of using their resources, use your own. (For this image, their first brush was used – I created a new brush from it by just using the spatter edge and removing the rest of the brush in another document – then saved it down as a new brush and used it around the edges. I think it will be very useful for other images.) For the above image of my huge Bird of Paradise in my front yard, a texture from Kim Klasson (called 3112) and the additional color was created by a splatter layer I had created a long time ago. There are four Photoshop filters used for this effect: Dry Brush, Crosshatch, Paint Daubs and Spatter. Each can be adjusted to get the effect you want. If you are getting halos, go in adjust the stroke sizes to remove it or just turn off the filter. Very flexible. In the above the Paint Daubs filter was turned off. And some color splotches were added on top as overlays – did not use their texture or overlay. But I did use their brushes. You actually paint out your subject, then clip the filter layer to it – this gives you the painterly effect. Therefore, the brushes can also be swapped out for your own. This was so much fun!
This image followed the instructions more closely but I did use a peach colored texture at the bottom instead of the provided one. Ivan’s supplied brushes were used and the Overlay texture was set to Overlay blend mode at a low layer opacity. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add some contrast and a crackle overlay was applied (it was an old one from French Kiss Textures) and set to 27% opacity. A New Layer was added and used this fabulous ink brush from Nicholai at GrutBrushes Free Brush of the Week called Slim Piko to paint in some of the lines in the butterfly. (I have been looking for a long time to get just the right brush for lines when painting and I think I finally found it! Check out this site for lots of great brushes!) And another Overlay was added using another Kim Klasson texture Cloth & Paper Touch 1 – a Blend If This Layer layer style was used to give the rough edges to show.
This last image was selected from Unsplash by Atikh-Bana to see how this effect works on a portrait. I wanted a sort of fashion look here so some other things were done to finish it up. One of Serge Ramelli’s free Watercolor brushes (no. 5 – and where he demonstrates another painting technique) was used underneath the white painted area over her body that the filters were clipped to. To bring back the face, a duplicate copy of the original image was placed above the filter smart object layer and a black layer mask was added – then some of the face was painted back using the Grut ink brush above. Spotlight layers using white was used to get the high key effect on the face. A Color Grading action called Fresh Moss by Chris Spooner was added on top to give the cinematic effect to the image. (Chris has lots of great free resources on his website.) The fonts for the image are: Magnies, Ramland (for personal use only), and one of my favorites, Argentina Script. They were put in a group and then set to 71% group opacity – also a layer mask was added to make parts of the text look partially hidden.
As you can see, this is a pretty nice painterly effect. I created an action that sets up the size to 2000 px,, converts a duplicate layer to a Smart Object, and adds the 4 filters with the settings Ivan used. It is pretty easy to do – if you need some help let me know and I will go through the steps. The action makes the major part of the technique happen quickly – then you just add your own resources and brushes. This was really a lot of fun. For a couple other painterly effects I have blogged about, check out below. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Trying Out the Free Watercolor Action from Adobe – Pretty Nice!
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.
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.
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.
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
I finally purchased Perfectly Clear – had the free plugin but never the whole program. It takes a very different direction from the regular Photoshop plugins like Nik, Luminar, OnOne and Topaz Studio. I think that is one reason I have not been sure what to think about the program. I ran the it (along with some of the other plugins for comparing) on some of my pix to see what results it gave. The Bahamas Guana Cay image above is an example of using Perfectly Clear. Their website says there are 175+ Tools, Features and Presets. Several tutorials on how to use the product are at the website. And if you get stuck, click on a Question Mark in the interface and the website opens for more information since no software manual is available.
The major difference between this plugin and the others is that it is mostly preset and slider driven and no masking is available to remove parts of the effect. If you want to do a quicker type of post-processing, this is the program. What is also very different to me is that it seems to correct the Exposure using the Intelligent Auto preset when the image is first opened into the program and before any settings have been changed. Normally I would say this is a bad thing, but it usually makes the image look better right away. The preset can be changed quickly by just selecting other presets or adjusting the individual sliders in the Tone section. One tip is that by hovering over each of the presets at the top, different descriptions on what type of image to use it on are presented – very handy.
What I Do Like about Perfectly Clear
- This program has several very different sliders – I am sure they are similar to sliders in the other programs, but the interface makes it very easy to see where to make your adjustments. Below is a screenshot of the settings used on the image above. (Click on Screenshot to see settings larger in Flickr.)
For example one of my favorite sliders is located in the Preprocessing section and is called Image Ambulance. I believe this was in their earlier versions, but it is new to me. What it does is act and look like an Exposure Compensation button on your camera. How cool is this? My image ‘s EV can be adjusted very quickly if it needs just a slight change. I really like the visual effect of this slider. Also check out the Color section’s Color ReStore which adds richness to the blacks and a Fidelity slider which gives accurate colors in the image.
- It has an overall Strength slider at the top and when reduced (or increased), all the sliders applied move in their proportional amounts. It does seem to use Smart Objects so the sliders can be readjusted easily.
- The Portrait section is very unique and very good. I have tried this on a couple images – see my model below with a cinematic effect added. Luminar 4 and On1 both have many similar sliders – each of their sliders vary somewhat – but Perfectly Clear’s portrait sections are a little different. The Makeup section is really nice. There is even a Catchlight slider for the eyes with 5 different types to apply. Skin Correction section has different presets like Blemish Removal and Shine Removal. The slider settings for Perfectly Clear are shown under the model’s image to give you a chance to see what they look like (click on Screenshot for larger view in Flickr). I am not a retoucher so there are some areas that need a little more work. Photoshop was used to even out the coloring with Nik Viveza – really helped me with the arm skin tone. Overall the results were very good with the adjustments Perfectly Clear provided.
- This program has several very different sliders – I am sure they are similar to sliders in the other programs, but the interface makes it very easy to see where to make your adjustments. Below is a screenshot of the settings used on the image above. (Click on Screenshot to see settings larger in Flickr.)
What I Don’t Like about Perfectly Clear
- No Masking capability in the program. The effect is applied to either the whole image or not at all, except where the portrait sections are being used. And there is no layer capability which would help in this regard. One trick I did learn is that you can select just a portion of your image in PS and then take it into Perfectly Clear to work on just that portion of the image.
- Would like to add all my personal Color Lookup (LUT) files to the program. They sell a lot of them if looking for a particular style but are fairly expensive.
- I have not figured out how to reset all the sliders if I do not the like the original results – not sure it is an option since the program is preset run basically. Still it would be nice just to start from scratch. You can save out your own preset which is great if you do find settings you like.
- Has limited options – great for people who just want to pop in and adjust a few things but I like to adjust things in different ways and that is hard to do. And there are not many creative type filters like Topaz is known for – pretty much standard filters here.
This image of the grounds at Iolani Palace State Monument in Oahu, Hawaii, also used Perfectly Clear as a starting point. The plugin definitely added in some exposure and color. Back in Photoshop I added an Orton action to get the soft final look. (Want to know how to do it? Look at my How to Create an Orton Effect blog from a while ago – all the simple steps are there.)
I like the fact that when on sale, it is a fairly inexpensive software. It is both a stand-alone and a Photoshop plugin – and is probably a good choice for those who do not want to bother with settings in the standard type plugin. It does have batch processing capability. It does have the Looks (LUTs) capability. It does have great Exposure presets and sliders. Am I glad I bought it? Yes – when on sale, it is a bargain. If you do a lot of portrait images or selfies, this program would be great for fixing up faces quickly.
I have not watched all the tutorials so I plan on doing this soon. I would like to do a blog on some techniques that can be done with this plugin. At least I hope you got a feel for what this software does do – Perfectly Clear has a 21-day trial version and some very good deals going on right now. Check it out and see what you think. I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked this software!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I am just going to give you a few of my favorite plugins that I think are worth checking out if you are interested in purchasing a few on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I am a huge filter (plugin) fan and these are all ones I own and use a lot or I would not waste your time. The image above is the final after adding several of the filters below.
Topaz Sharpen AI
Hands down in my mind is Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI – it seems to be just getting better and better each rendition they release. Probably 80% of my images are improved by this filter, even if I do not realize the image needs it. The image below used the Topaz AI Sharpen set to my favorite settings of Processing Mode Stabilize, Remove Blur 0.80 (this is the sharpening slider) and Suppress Noise 0.30. For some reason these settings work on most of my images. I will try the other Processing Modes (Sharpen and Focus) if there is no noticeably improvement with these settings. And by applying and adding a black layer mask to the image back in Photoshop, just areas needing the sharpening can be painted back quickly. See my Topaz Sharpen AI – Good or Bad? and Yes, Free Upgrade for Infocus Owners blog for a quick review. Below is a split screenshot of how the image looked before using LR and after with this filter – it is especially noticeable in the little branches that are hanging down. Subtle but definitely better.
Luminar 4 or Luminar Flex – looks like Skylum has pulled Flex
Last week I did a quick review of Luminar 4 (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) and I have discussed Flex previously. Flex at one time was a free program for Luminar 3 owners and the was sold as a separate program. Until recently it was available on their site, but at this time I am having problems finding it. I hope that they have not quit updating or selling this product as it is very handy for people who do not need the cataloging function of the program but love the filters. I will try to find out more and update any new information. There is a difference – mainly in the filters. If you want the latest and greatest of the AI filters, Luminar 4 has them – the new AI Sky Replacement, AI Structure, and AI Skin Enhancer along with the new Portrait Enhancer are in it. Luminar Flex has the Accent AI Filter 2.0 and AI Sky Enhancer and a total of 51 filters that can be applied to your images. Luminar 4 has the cataloging capability but only 32 total filters (some are grouped together under a new name and were counted individually). This has upset some people. Also I have found in both programs that using the Structure filter with the Details filter gives an excellent Sharpening effect. Flex has been around for a while and the reason people loved it is that it had a Smart Object capability which Luminar 3 did not. Luminar 4 does have the Smart Object functionality, but if you are a Windows person, the recent update to Photoshop 2020 makes it uneditable – this is also true for Flex. The Tech team is working on it and the issue should be resolved soon. I think both programs do an excellent job at a fairly reasonable price. Once again, give them both a try. I find Luminar products seem to have really good color in them and some excellent photo filters. See my Checking out Skylum’s Luminar 4 blog and Luminar Flex – Exactly What Is This? blog for interface screenshots. I do use Flex all the time on my images – just got Luminar 4 so still deciding which is better.
DXO Nik Collection 2
They have now updated the original Nik Suite and added some new filters and a new interface. I am still using the original as it seems to be working fine for me with the new Photoshop 2020 update. My all time “Favorite” plugin that I use on 98% of my images is Viveza (the last step on the image above used this filter to emphasize some focal points). Many people feel that Lightroom does the same thing, but not for me. It was the second plugin I bought (behind the original Topaz Adjust) many years ago and I still love it (as well as Topaz Adjust – they have a Topaz Adjust AI program that I am still trying out). Back to DXO’s Nik Collection 2 – they claim to have added 40 new filters (8 to just the Color Efex Program). I can’t say enough good things about Nik – they supported my blog for years before Google bought them. I strongly suggest you try out their products.
TOPAZ STUDIO 2
Topaz considers this their “creative filter collection” and that is probably a fair assessment. Since it contains Topaz Impression and Topaz AI Remix leading the way to get some really unique results, it is probably the most versatile of all the suites available. It also contains Glow, Edges, Precision Contrast and Precision Detail, and Color Theme (a hidden jewel for changing colors in your image) filters besides all the useful Looks (presets). It is now available for just a flat fee – if you own some of the filters, there is a discount available to you but you need to contact them before you buy to find out what it will cost. That said, there is no cataloging and more limited Camera Raw ability going on here – just lots of filters to give unique effects and fabulous color results. Topaz has worked very hard to improve their original Topaz Studio 1 to make it easier and faster to use. I love parts of it, but I miss parts of it too. The biggest issue is that the older Topaz plugins are no longer linked within the interface (they can still be used from the Filter -> Topaz Labs back in Photoshop) – but it will link the newer AI filters. I use this program a lot – definitely worth getting. Check out my What About This Topaz Studio 2 Update? Not Bad! blog for more info on it.
OTHERS I LIKE BUT DO NOT USE ALL THE TIME
TOPAZ DeNoise AI
I am a huge Topaz fan so I must say that I do love their plugins, but some I do not use all the time. The Topaz DeNoise AI is a fabulous plugin – and it does contain everyone’s favorite AI Clear that can be selected when opened. I find I do not need to do this often since DeNoise AI seems to overlap with the Sharpen AI somewhat and AI Clear is in Topaz Studio 2. Usually I use Studio to add the DeNoise as this little filter is so handy to access (and you can use a brush to paint it off in parts of the image in Studio.) For more info, check out my Topaz DeNoise AI – And Yes, Free Upgrade When Your Own DeNoise6 or AI Clear blog.
Corel’s Painter Particalshop
This Photoshop plugin is a really great way to add some fun to your images. There are many new brushes that can be added to the plugin (at a cost) to get some interesting effects, so check it out if you want to see what is available. For example, Particleshop has a Perfect Pets set, Sketch, Sunny Rays, Rust and Patina, Trees & Foliage – all kinds of brushes to get. I do not this plugin a lot, but there are times it adds just the perfect touch. Most have several settings to change the look of the brushes. This plugin is working fine with Photoshop 2020. Check out my Intro to Corel Particleshop Brushes for Photoshop blog.
Flaming Pears Flood Filter
The Flood Filter has been around for years without changing much, but it is still one of the best effects for water I have ever seen. Lots of sliders and a very smooth effect with great reflections can be obtained as well as very rough waters and lot of waves. Great for getting some interesting effects. I have an older version and it works just fine with Photoshop 2020. And check my older blog called The Flood Look.
Still the best for enlarging your image – I love this program and use it all the time. It is constantly being upgraded and does a fabulous job! Now you can add some sharpening to bring in more detail when enlarging and denoise if there is a problem with this. One of Topaz’s best! And yes, I have done a blog on it too – see The Best New Software Around – Topaz A.I. Gigapixel! blog.
These are just some of the great plugins out there. I have found that I get confused when I use them all so I am trying to choose what are my very favorites and stick to learning how to use them better. That being said, sometimes getting a new set of filters really helps on the creative end of things. I hope this blog gives you some ideas for a few nice add-ins to Photoshop. Have a great shopping week and Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating! I am taking next week off, so see you in a couple!…..Digital Lady Syd
Hi Everyone! Well tomorrow Skylum officially releases their latest and greatest software update called Luminar 4 (for website link, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) and it is a great one. This program seems to have been originally developed to compete with OnOne Software’s and Adobe Lightroom’s cataloging ability, but that is not what I find is so great. The software has introduced some new fabulous filters. It now contains an incredible one-click sky replacement filter that is hands-down the best I have ever seen – and absolutely no halos! The filter is called AI Sky Replacement and literally takes 5 seconds for it to find the image sky, which adds light tones to match to the image, and looks pretty good. Just pop in a new sky that can be either one of 29 provided or one of your own. No masking or anything – just replaces it. The image above is an example using one of Luminar’s skies. And below is the new Portrait Enhancer.
The Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas image was originally taken into Luminar 4 from Lightroom (just straightening was done first) where several filters were applied including the AI Sky Replacement, and then brought back into LR as a .tiff file. Just to note, I first tried to bring the image in using a Virtual Copy of my image, and it will not work. It was immediately opened in Photoshop where a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to the top layer mask to slightly lighten up and adjust the sky just a little. This can probably be done in the Luminar filter, but I have not figured out how yet. That was it. Below is a screenshot of the original Raw image as it taken into Luminar 4.
Here is a screenshot of the sliders in the AI Sky Replacement filter. Click on the image for a larger view in Flickr. The Relight Scene slider is really nice. Still working on figuring out what effect the other slider have on the overall image. Note the four icons on the side – that is where the different modules are accessed – it took me a minute to figure this out.
The image below by Joshua Rawson Harris from Unsplash is another example of a new filter called the Portrait Enhancer – it contains several sliders for using on faces. This is another pretty incredible filter. There is also a single slider filter called AI Skin Enhancer that I did not think did as well on this image.
The image was originally opened in Photoshop and Luminar 4 then opened on a duplicate layer as a plugin – it worked fine. The only other thing done was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer back in Photoshop. Below is a screenshot of what the sliders in the filter look like – click on image to see a larger view in Flickr.
The Green Turtle Cay Resort and Marina image was opened in LR where just a few Basic changes were done before it was opened in Photoshop. From there Luminar 4 was opened as a plugin and unfortunately I lost all my settings as the Smart Object did not work right for me (I know Flex has Smart Object capability, but not sure on Luminar 4), but it was pretty much the same workflow as used with Flex. I was extremely surprised how great the detail and color came out. A little Viveza 2 was used on this image in PS at the end due to the fact the focal point was not quite as noticeable as I wanted.
The Essentials section includes the AI Accent and AI Sky Enhancer filters which are now placed together in a and called AI Enhance – still just one slider for each. There is a new slider called AI Structure which seems to be really great for adding detail to an image. There is a section called Landscape Enhancer which now contains the Dehaze, Golden Hour, and Foliage Enhancer sliders. The Landscape module is where many of the other filters in Flex are found including their famous Sunrays filter along with AI Sky Replacement. In the Portrait section the new AI Skin Enhancer and the Portrait Enhancer filters are located along with the High Key and Orton Effect filters. The last module is called Pro and contains Dodge & Burn, Color Enhancer – lots of filters to do some basic enhancements to your images.
I am really surprised how good this program is. There are many links on how to use Luminar 4 all over the internet – I have not looked at any yet but I will be. I only wanted to introduce you to some of the new things in Luminar 4. These new filters and the speed it has for applying them is amazing. I would recommend you download a trial to see if you like it. I think that the new filters are wonderful. Good job Skylum!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) unleashed their newest in their lineup of AI products by updating the old Topaz ReMask to Topaz Mask AI. I stand corrected – this is not a free update for past owners – not sure why since the product is very similar to the original – apparently they are giving past owners a discount. Update: There is a new update out, Version 1.0.2 – if your software does not indicate there is an update, go to the site and download the latest version.
So the Sumatran Tiger (from the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, DC) above was my first attempt using the program – I used it as a plugin in Photoshop, which is how I have always used it. It is also a stand alone program where the selections can be saved as a Transparent PNG file. My first impression is that it is not that different from ReMask 5 so if you have used it in the past, the plugin will be familiar to you. The AI capability does appear to create a better initial selection, but there usually is still some clean up brushing required using a small sized Green brush (for keeping an area), Red brush (for removing an area), and Blue brush (for recalculating the area to match). BTW, keyboard shortcuts for the Blue Brush is Q, Green is W and Red E – this makes it really quick to switch between the brushes, especially when doing clean up on the selection. The brush size can be increased or decreased using the bracket keys as in PS. It takes a little longer for the computing to occur since it is AI technology.
Below is the interface after the Auto (Detect Objects button) and Compute buttons were pressed and showing the 4 previews at once. This is my favorite way to clean up the image since corrections can be painted in any of the views if something does not look right. See how good the blue outline looks and it created a really overall smooth selection. I think it creates a better result than PS’s Quick Selection Tool with the Select Subject used.
SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF TOPAZ MASK AI ARE:
1. One of the best new features is the Auto Button which automatically creates a selection as shown above. What I will say is that I got much better results using the Auto button than by my brushing in my own blue outline around the tiger. So keep that in mind, use Auto first if possible. If it cannot find a subject, nothing happens.
2. Choose between AI or Contrast buttons. Topaz says use AI for complex masking issues such as trees, fur or lots of details. Use Contrast for skylines, horizon lines, cars, and macro flower petals (according to Topaz). I have not tried out the Contrast button yet, but the AI worked great on the tutorial they have embedded in the program to help you learn the software.
3. If you create your own outline, be sure to add a touch of red or green in areas you don’t want or do want. It helps the AI technology figure out what you want to keep. Not sure it helped me that much, but I am still new to the update so I may not be using it correctly.
4. What do all those Edge sliders do?
- Edge Shift – shifts mask edge – I find this one major handy as it gets rid of some of the rough edges.
- Edge Softness – add sharpening to sharp edges and softens edges as in a portrait.
- Foreground Recovery – revives the color of foreground in weaker or more transparent areas – good for fur, whiskers, or wispy hair.
- Defringe – to help reduce halos on edges.
5. Background Options: When I am doing edge corrections with a very small brush, I usually add a really bright solid color background color so the problem areas can be seen well. Have always done this and it helps a lot. The Blur options blurs the background for you – gives you a slider to do this. I have never used this option, but it might come in handy to see what is really being selected. Apparently an image can be placed into the selection and there are several options to adjust the selection’s exposure, contrast, etc. I have never used this before either.
One thing the Help Manual does not tell you is that once you have added the blue lines, use the Fill bucket to add green to the keep areas and red for areas to remove. That way you do not have to paint it out.
Also, it does not have, when used as a PS plug, the ability to “Enable Use Layer Mask” in the Preferences that was available with ReMask 5. Instead, need to add a layer mask to a duplicate layer before going into Mask AI – it will now load the selection into a PS layer mask upon applying. This is so helpful.
Well I hope you load it up and try it out. I trust that Topaz is still working with the program and are doing updates as the AI feature gets better – that seems to be the trend for their AI software. In the meantime, I will practice with the program and try and get a Video out there on some tips to make this process easy. And don’t forget that Topaz has a great Help program, so if you are having issues with Mask AI, let them know. Have a great week and Happy Halloween!……Digital Lady Syd