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Photoshop Filter

HOW TO GET A SOFT BLACK AND WHITE LANDSCAPE EFFECT

B&W Image of Spanish Cay in the Bahamas
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.

Image of deserted beach on Spanish Cay in the Bahamas

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.

Luminar version of Spanish Cay Image

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?


JUST A LITTLE LANDSCAPE LOVE

Sunset image from Spanish Cay in the Bahamas
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


HOW TO USE THE LIGHTING EFFECTS FILTER

Image of a Squirrel Monkey at the Jacksonville Zoo
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.

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Image of a Malay Lacewing Butterfly at the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville, FloridaThis 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.

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Image of Bronze Giraffe Sculptures from the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden in West Palm BeachThe 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.

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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.

Image of Flagler Beach and the natural Sea Oats

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.


WHEN DO YOU USE TOPAZ DENOISE AI, SHARPEN AI, AND AI CLEAR?

Image of a large red hibiscus bloom
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.

Screenshot of Topaz DeNoise AI interface

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.

Image of Topaz Sharpen AI InterfaceWhat 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.

AI CLEAR

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.

Screenshot of AI Clear interface in Topaz Studio 2

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.

Image taken at night at Piccadilly Circus in LondonHere 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.

Screenshot of a noisy close up of Piccadilly Circus

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.

Bottom Line

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


SCANNING WITH A BLACK BOX

Image of Plumbago flowers taken in a black box and scanned
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.

Quick Workflow

  1. 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.)
  2. Plucked a couple flowers off my Plumbago Plants growing outside and pulled a couple of leaves off also.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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


HOW TO ADD A LITTLE EXTRA DETAIL

Image of two Moon Jellyfish
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.

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Image of a traditional jellyfish with a watercolor effect

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.

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Image of Moon Jellyfish in a sepia tone
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


HOW TO CONVERT BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES TO COLORFUL PAINTINGS WITH TOPAZ STUDIO 2

Image of Cowboys at a Roundup in Montana in 1939
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

Screenshot of Topaz Studio 2 Look
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.

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Painted image from a famous B&W image by Albert in 1936
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.

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Black and white image converted to color
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
Contemplating Life
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!


ANOTHER PAINTERLY EFFECT TO TRY

Image of a painted Bird of Paradise plant
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!

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Image of a painted butterfly
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.

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Unsplash image by Atikh-Bana painted
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:
Edinburgh Lunch
Trying Out the Free Watercolor Action from Adobe – Pretty Nice!


JUST A LITTLE CARTOON

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

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Image of a sleeping lion from the Jacksonville Zoo

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

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Image of a sleeping lion at the Jacksonville Zoo

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

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Image of a sleeping lion at the Jacksonville Zoo

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

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


DIGITAL LADY SYD REVIEWS PERFECTLY CLEAR

Scenic image from Guana Cay in the Outer Banks in the Bahamas
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

    1. 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.)

      Screenshot of Perfectly Clear settings for Bahamas image

      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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.


Cinematic Effect on an image of a model


Screenshot of Perfectly Clear's portrait filters

What I Don’t Like about Perfectly Clear

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Image taken at Iolani Palace State Monument

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.)

Bottom Line

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


WHAT FILTERS I USE AND WHAT IS NEW FOR ME

Image of tiny white and red flowers
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.

Screenshot using Topaz Sharpen AI

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.

Screenshot of the effect Luminar 4 had on flower image

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.

Image after applying Nik Photo Efex Pro Midnight Filter

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.

Old version of Flood Filter used on flowers

Topaz Gigapixel

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


CHECKING OUT SKYLUM’S LUMINAR 4

Image of a beach at Green Turtle Key in the Outer Banks in the Bahamas
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.

Screenshot of Raw image at a beach on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas
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.

Screenshot of Luminar 4's AI Sky Replacement filters

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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.

Image of a swimmer by Joshua Rawson Harris on Unsplash

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.

Screenshot of sliders for Luminar 4's Portrait Enhancer filter

*****
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.

Image of the Green Turtle Cay Resort and Marina in the Bahamas

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


TOPAZ MASK AI

Image of a Summatran Tiger at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC
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.

Screenshot of Topaz Mask AI

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


CAN A BLURRY IMAGE BECOME SHARP? MAYBE

Image of a bird feeder with a couple of birds
Just doing a really quick blog this week – have been working on an image that was taken this last summer that I really liked, but it just was not that sharp. Mainly my settings were off – they were working on the butterflies but not for the skiddish birds. If I walked in closer, the birds were totally freaking and would not come near the bird feeder, so this was a problem. Lesson learned – shoot manual when having problems! It may not be the best image, but I did get a nice remembrance of the birds and they are at least recognizable. So here is what I finally came up with to fix this.

Obviously I was shooting a lot of images and that was a big part of why this worked. I have learned that a little burst shooting and several attempts are especially good when I am not sure that I am getting the image I want. The two images were not shot at the same time – actually several deer images were taken in between. The juvenile Blue Jay image was shot first and the Cardinal second. You will probably never find a Blue Jay and a Cardinal at this feeder at the same time. That is why the bird images were taken at different times, but I decided to leave the Blue Jay alone as I thought he looked cute. Below are the actual RAW files taken. You can see these both are in pretty bad shape. One reason I wanted to use this Cardinal shot is that I liked the way his head was turned.

Original Raw photos of bird feeder and birds

In Lightroom these simple settings were applied: first opened the Detail Panel to adjust some Sharpness and add Noise reduction (because it is always there with this camera), then in Lens Correction the check boxes for Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections were turned on. The image was next cropped into a Square. In the Basic Panel the Auto button was clicked and Texture and Clarity sliders were adjusted. That was it. The image was taken into Photoshop where it could be seen this just was not good. Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI was added and set to Stabilize, Remove Blur 1.00, and Remove Noise 0.20. It helped, but it could not totally fix this pix. In Lightroom an image that used the same bird feeder that was sharper had to be found – the one with the juvenile Blue Jay was selected. The changes made to the RAW file for the Cardinal were copied over to the Blue Jay image and it was also brought into PS. Below you can see what they both looked like at this point.

Bird feeder images after Lightroom adjustments made to them

Now the Blue Jay image had to have Topaz AI Sharpen applied in PS before stacking on top of the Cardinal layer. Several layers of cloning and painting with both regular and mixer brushes was required to add back the needed detail and blend the colors together. Once brought into the Cardinal image, the Blue Jay layer had to be Free Transformed to fit and a black layer mask added – just painted back parts needed. The info was all there on the originals, just slightly blurry. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added on top using Sparkle Stock’s Bleak-Shoji 01 LUT and set to 58% layer opacity – this tended to tone down the very green background color. Viveza 2 was used to highlight the birds and add a little detail with the Structure slider. The setting were placed on the Blue Jay in this case where the Structure slider was set to 65%, Brightness 42%, Contrast 49%, Saturation 22% and Warmth 25% – really made the bird pop – I use this program all the time to even out an image. I used 6 different points in this image to help direct the eye to the birds. I really feel it is much better than Lightroom’s filters and a lot easier to use. I do still love LR so don’t get me wrong, but this program to me is still the best Photoshop plugin ever made. (See screenshot below of how this plugin was used.)

Screenshot Viveza 2
On a stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Vignette filter set to Burnt Sienna was used – the effect was painted off the birds and feeder in a layer mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. Then on a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was set to a Strength of 100% to just the Cardinal and some of the seeds in the bird feeder – it was set to 45% layer opacity to keep it natural. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added next to adjust the red color in the Cardinal – this really added some depth and detail to the birds body which was not seen in the original image (Reds set to Cyan +82, Magenta +6, Yellow +2, and Black +13). Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top and the colors were adjusted as a black and white before setting the layer to Luminosity blend mode – great way to make sure you have your tonal values correct. (See my How to Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog.) Last step involved adding a Red Channel Luminosity Mask to a Curves Adjustment Layer – the Red Channel lighted up the birds the best. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) I hope I am getting across the fact that the sharpening is just slowly built up using different tools for different parts of the image.

Image of a painted deer
Who is this that just walked into my blog? Oh yes, one of the deer that was wandering around the yard near the bird feeder. My goodness! (Image was digitally painted mainly in Corel Painter 2019 and then finished up in Photoshop – my normal paint process.)

Anyway, thought I would show you how to fix something that may not seem fixable. It can be done, just takes a little experimentation and imagination to make it work. It actually is a lot like compositing images. Hope this was a bit of help to some of you – a favorite image might be saveable with a little manipulation. …..Digital Lady Syd


CREATING SOME MINIMALIST LANDSCAPE IMAGES

Infrared effect image taken at Green Turtle Cay in The Bahamas
This week I happened upon a really excellent video by Mark Denney called How to Embrace Minimalism for Improved Landscape Photos so I thought I would see if I had a few images that would qualify. It was fun to try a different technique using some of my older shots. Apparently a lot of minimized images are black and white due to color issues. So here are my first attempts at minimizing my images.

Mark says the major areas to be concerned about when doing a minimal landscape are Obvious Subject, Expansive Composition (negative space), Minimizing Color, Light and Shadows, and Keep It Simple. He has lots of great examples in his short video to show how to do this. I believe the image above of Green Turtle Cay, one of my favorite places that is in the Bahamas, fits most of these criteria. (Here is a great short video of how Green Turtle Cay and the little town of New Plymouth looked after Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian came through – amazingly good considering!) The image is very dark, but does have great highlights. There is not much in the image to see, but the little shoreline and small pier in the distance serves as fairly Obvious Subjects. The color palette is very limited and there is quite a bit of negative space in the foreground. What I like is that it creates an image that is very different from my normal way of looking at landscapes. (See Image 1 descriptions below for more details and links on how this image was finished.)

*****

Small island in the Bahamas
The above image is another one from the Bahamas – a little lonely island near Green Turtle Cay. This area is a great place to get minimalist type images as it is very flat with these gorgeous skies. This image has an obvious subject, lots of negative space, minimal color palette, and some great highlights and shadows. I think it meets the criteria. In this case it does not need a black and white treatment as it does not have a lot of colors that distracts from the subject. (For more info, check out Image 2 below in descriptions.)

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Image of a lone tree on Spanish Cay on the Bahamas
Another example of a simple minimalist landscape. The original image was created from 5 raw files in Lightroom using the Photo Merge command which creates a DNG file. It was then opened in Photoshop. (For more post details, check out Image 3 description below.) The subject definitely is a strong one in this image. Quite a bit of negative space, minimal color and with highlights and shadows. Very desolate looking but I like the image – the beach was very bare looking.

Hope you enjoyed the blog and will try out creating a minimalist landscape. I am going to photograph some local places using this effect and getting some more practice – I think it is really an interesting technique. Hope you have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Descriptions:

Image 1:  The original image of Turtle Cay in the Bahamas was a very colorful one with lots of blues and turquoise colors. I decided to turn it into an infrared effect by using a really old preset (still works great) in Lightroom called GA B&W Infrared 01. Then several adjustments were made in both the Basic and B&W Panel to get the correct balance for the effect wanted. The image was taken into Photoshop and a Spotlight Effect layer was added to mainly the beach edges. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Nathan Black Atmosphere preset from the wonderful PS guru Glyn Dewis and set to 32% layer opacity. (I am having trouble tracking down this LUT but it may be in his Creativity Tool Kit downloadable from his website.) The Blur Gallery’s Field Blur was set to 33 px and added on a stamped layer to soften down the whole image – then a layer mask was added and the Gradient Tool was used so only the foreground received the softening effect from the blur. On two new layers above, a fog brush was used ,one with white color and one with black, to further soften the foreground and were set to very low opacities. Another new layer was added on top and the Blur Tool set to 100% Strength and used to paint over the objects on the right to further soften their effect. To get the soft blue tones, another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used and set to the PS Horror Blue preset at 20% opacity. That was the last step.

Image 2: Basically nothing was done in Lightroom except some cropping. The image was taken into Photoshop to do the rest of the post work. This image turned out to be mainly a Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) image. The original layer was duplicated and the top layer was opened into Topaz Studio 2. Topaz Adjust AI filter was then opened and set to Standard at 1.00; Brightness Exposure -0.06, Contrast -0.31, Shadow -0.41 and White -0.09; and Split Tone Highlight Sat 0.49, Highlight Hue 0.15, Shadow Sat 0.37, Shadow Hue 0.65, and Balance 0.33. Next the Impression filter was set to the Default and a mask was created and set to Transparency 0.71. Painted a little paint off the palm trees, then clicked on the Adjust icon – on the Density slider, set the mask to 0.27 so just a bit of the effect was apparent. Went back to the Brush and set it to 0.33 Transparency and painted back a little more definition to the palm trees. Lots of little tweaks here. The Dehaze Filter was set to Strength 0.72, and yet another Impression Filter, this time using Stroke Type 07 with the Texture set to Original – and in the layer mask painted back the island and in Adjust set Contrast to 1.44 and Density 0.36. Set Filter Opacity to 0.65. I am giving you all the settings so you can how much tweaking can be done to get just the look you want with all these filters – kudos to Topaz for this! Next on a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was added – used the Snow Flight preset with several changes. (ReStyle: 32% opacity, Sat Primary 0.38, Secondary -0.58, Third -0.61 and Fifth 0.34; and Lum Primary -0.14, Secondary -0.56, Third -0.11 and Fifth -0.23; and Basic Color Temperature -0.23, Tint 0.19, and Sat -0.22; Tone Black Level -0.08, Midtones -0.03, and White Level -0.22 and Detail Structure -0.28 and Sharpness -0.05.) After viewing another excellent video called Advanced Color Toning in Photoshop by Blake Rudis, a Gradient Map called Blake Rudis gray gradient 19 set to Soft Light at 62% layer opacity was selected. (Do download his free gradients if you use the Gradient Filter at all!) Next added a group of adjustment layers created from a video (Trick the Photo Filter to Add Drama & Color in Photoshop) by Unmesh Dinda and changed several of the settings to fit this image – then setting the group to 89% layer opacity. On a couple new layers some painting was done to smooth out the colors a little. Added a Color Balance Adjustment Layer to remove just a little bit of Magenta in the sky in the Shadows and Highlights. Next Topaz Lens Effects was opened and the Fog Filter was used with these settings: Fog Adjustments Amount 0.43, Region Size 0.38, Transition 0.21, Angle 180.0, and Diffusion 0.55. That was it.

Image 3: This image was created from 5 raw files in Lightroom. They were combined into an HDR using the Photo Merge -> HDR command which created an HDR .dng image. This was brought into Photoshop and on a duplicate layer, Luminar Flex was opened. This is where the image was converted into a black and white image using the B&W Conversion filter. Also a small amount of Dehaze, Image Radiance, Top & Bottom Lighting, and Whites/Blacks filter were used. A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was opened and an S-curve created. The Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was set to Edgy Amber and 66% layer opacity. A Levels Adjustment Layer vignette was created. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to lighten up the right top area – black mask added with just the area needed painted back. Most of these techniques are in other blogs of mine.


LET’S NOT FORGET TOPAZ RESTYLE – ONE OF THE BEST FILTERS YOU CAN GET!

Image of a white Bird of Paradise bloom
Made it through the first hurricane scare of the season. Therefore decided to blog about something I really love – Topaz Labs (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) hidden jewel of filters – ReStyle! I use this program so much. There are times when an image looks pretty good but something is missing. Sometimes the colors don’t feel quite right together. This is when ReStyle is at it’s best. The above image was an example of this. When it was opened in Photoshop and after doing all the magic I could do, it still just did not look quite right. After applying ReStyle, it looks much better to me. So how do you get this result?

The filmstrip shows thumbnails of the original image from LR along with four different presets applied. Additional changes to the sliders in the presets would need to be made to get the best results, but ReStyle makes it easy to get a good basic idea of what other color combinations would do to the image.

Filmstrip image of various ReStyle preset results

The really fun part is adjusting the five major color sliders using the Hue, Sat and Lum sections, just like in LR’s HSL Panel after selecting a preset. The opacity and blend mode can also be changed for just this ReStyle section – in other words the original colors can be brought back into the image a little, and blend modes can be applied to just the ReStyle section. Very subtle results can be achieved when this is done and can really change how the image looks. And even better, the same type of adjustments can be done for the Basic Section also. I am not one who generally likes to apply presets to my images, but this filter is a preset driven program with several hundred presets to make a choice from. This should one of the first Topaz filters people would get, especially for the creative PS user – and it is so easy to use.

This week I did a quick video to show how this same image was used in ReStyle using different settings. This shows how the interface works. Note that the image is not finished up in the video, more work needs to be done on the image, but the overall ReStyle effect is rather nice. For the top image, a Lucis Pro filter was used to sharpen up the edges a little and a gray texture set to Subtract blend mode at 70% layer opacity was added before going into ReStyle. To finish up the image after ReStyle, a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to bring back some contrast and a slight vignette was used.

I do not know if Topaz is planning to incorporate ReStyle into its Topaz Studio 2 line-up of filters. It is absolutely one of the most unique filters you will find – just about on par with Impression. I will say that Topaz Studio 2 does include a pretty nifty Color Theme filter where five different colors that can be changed in your image, and it has nine presets in a drop-down menu to choose from. It also has the ability to customize the colors, but it is not nearly as easy to do. I will try to do a follow-up on this Topaz Studio 2 filter in the near future. And check out my related blogs below – the first ones explains how to get ReStyle to use just the colors in your image and then lets you apply all their slider settings. This is also a very easy way to do some slight adjustments to colors in your image.

Hope everyone is having a good month – busy with school starting and weather changing! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle


WISHING THE BAHAMAS ALL THE BEST

Image of sunset at Spanish Cay in the Bahamas

Taking some time off due to the Dorian Hurricane that is coming up the coast near me. The Bahamas are right in the hurricane’s path. It is one of my favorite places – the Outer Banks especially where all the smaller cays are. The above is an older image of a sunset at the Spanish Cay marina, a little island with hardly any inhabitants but a really nice marina. This is also one of the places where you check in with your passport to continue your visit in the area.

The HDR effect was created using 5 images in Lightroom. Lightroom has made it so easy to do this – just select the images to use and right click to select Photo Merge -> HDR. Just click Merge to apply and a DNG file is created to finish up your post work. For this image one of Blake Rudis’s profiles called Warmifier was applied first in the Basic Panel. Then just the normal adjustments were done. An Adjustment Brush with settings of Texture 85 and Clarity 41 was used to paint over the treeline. A Graduated Filter was placed at the top with settings of Exposure -0.34, Shadows -10, Clarity -30, and Saturation 6. A Radial filter was placed over the clouds where they were slightly warmed up and Clarity removed to soften. In Details Panel, the Luminance had to be slightly increased as there was noise from the darker images. Since I wanted to Sharpen it without bringing back more noise, the Masking Slider was set up to 94 so only the major lines of the image were sharpened. Then the image was taken into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Luminar Flex was used to further enhance the image. Filters used were AI Sky Enhancer, Accent AI Filter 2.0, Golden Hour, Top & Bottom Lighting, and HSL adjusting only some of the foreground water color a little. The Filter Amount was then set to only 36%. Last step was to add a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using Crisp Warm Look at 8% opacity.

Here is hoping the Bahamas, the Florida coast and on up get through this storm. See ya on the other side!…..Digital Lady Syd

PS: Check out my Flickr Bahamas Album for more pix from the Outer Banks.


TOPAZ STUDIO 2 IMPRESSION AND PHOTOSHOP BRUSHES


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

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

A Little about Brushes

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Settings for a Painting Mixer:

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

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

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


HOW TO GET THAT ABSTRACT FEEL EASILY

Abstract image of a sand sculpture look
Since it is the hot days of summer, I have just been having some fun creating a few rather abstract images using Photoshop and thought I would share some of my results. One thing I have found is that the Motion Blur filter, whether using Photoshop’s or Topaz’s, is wonderful to add with other filters to get some great abstract looks. For the image above I had watched a good video by Denise Ippolito, a really great wildlife and flower photographer, called The Art of Flower Photography. At the end of her video (at the 50:43 mark) and in her blog of 7/1/19, she shows you how to create some beautiful color abstracts in camera while taking floral and landscape images. That gave me the idea that maybe I could do the same thing using Photoshop.

This Sand Sculpture looking image used a Motion Blur and Liquify Tool along with several stamp brushes. For all the details, check out my Image 1 description at end of blog.

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Abstract image of the silhouette of a woman walking
This image was created using an image taken from behind of a person walking on the Queen’s Walk in London. She was selected and a new background created to obtain this rather abstract feel in the image. For post info, check out Image 2 details at end of blog.

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Abstract digital painting of some flowers
The above image represents a different way to create an abstract – this time a Mixer Blender Brush was used – one provided by Photoshop called the Fan Flat Mixer (located in PS’s Converted Legacy Tool Presets -> Default Tool Presets). The original image was from OnOne’s Springtime Nature Textures packet of small flowers just lying on the ground. The blender was used to stretch out and blend the stalks together, creating a very soft abstract effect easily. See Image 3 for more details.

Well that’s it for this week – I love doing creative things with images. It can turn a rather useless image into something rather spectacular. Have a good week – I will be skipping next week but will return with some new tips and tricks! ……. Digital Lady Syd

Image Details:

Image 1:  The top image is one I created from an image taken at Stirling Castle in Scotland of the surrounding countryside. In Lightroom the colors were kept to a fairly low contrast color palette using just the blue, aqua and gray tones. In Photoshop I changed the color palette to purples and pinks using the Camera Raw Filter which made the image look awful. On a duplicate layer Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) the Motion Blurs filter was applied – just dragged the arrow all the way left to create a straight horizontal line. Then used their HSL filter to get a good set of colors. (A very similar effect can be achieved in PS by going to the Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur and using an Angle of 0 and a Distance of 2000 pixels.) The turquoise color was added in at this point. To get the wave effect, Liquify was used – just pushed the lines up and down. A clean up layer to even out some of the lines using the Clone Stamp brush was used. Next on a layer on top a bird brush by Wavenwater Brushes n Tools was added and the layer set to 73% opacity. On another layer a Neverhurtno Sealife Scallops brush was added. Next layer was from immrgy in a set of brushes called Anemone-Sheels-Corel/Mussel. Next a layer with just some speckles from Wavenwater’s set was also used. Finally a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Abstract Cobalt-Carmine preset. On a New Layer on top a mixer was used to just smooth the edges between the sky and the waves. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the Adobe Paper Texture Pro was used to add the Apple Blush texture set to Overlay blend mode at 70% opacity. This was a lot of fun to create and really was not that hard.

Image 2:  This image took a while to create and several different options were tried before the correct feel to the image popped up. Mainly it was post processed in two major steps. First the woman was extracted and placed on her own layer. She was duplicated with a black layer mask where just her purse and shoes were painted back. Then the first layer of the lady was selected (CTRL+click on the thumbnail) and she was filled with black (set colors to black and white and ALT+Backspace). Now just the purse and shoes show up. The second major section was used the Motion Blur Tool on the image and stretching it. Then a second Abstract Texture by Inspiration Hut called Design Background 1 (their sight is not coming up correctly so I could not get a link, but will add it once it is straightened out) was placed on top and set to 78% layer opacity. On a new layer some black vertical brush strokes were added to the side. Last step was to add a vignette – this one used the one described in my recent Using a Levels Adjustment Layer for a Vignette blog. Silhouettes always create interesting subjects.

Image 3: As stated above, the original image was taken from an OnOne give away set in April called Springtime Nature Textures which contained little white and blue blossoms. The layer was duplicated and the Fan Flat Mixer brush (located in PS’s Converted Legacy Tool Presets -> Default Tool Presets) was used to smooth it all together with just long brush strokes – it looked really blurry at this point. Then several other brushes on individual layers were added to get more detail back into the image: Serge Ramelli watercolor brushes (see his How to Create a Watercolor Painting Effect with Photoshop video to download brushes), a whole bunch of Grut’s Brushes to create some new details (these are best brushes around – check him out), and one of my favorite brushes every by Melissa Gallo called a Vine Brush (only available with her PS painting class). French Kiss Artiste Fauve Rainbow texture (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) was added on top with a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer clipped to it and the Saturation set to -100 to remove all the color and leave just the texture. That was it. Lots of fun.


HOW TO USE THE PUPPET WARP TOOL CREATIVELY – RECYCLED

Image of a white rose from Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida
This week I am recycling another one of my “oldies but goodies” where the Puppet Warp is used in a pretty cool way. I added the White Rose image above from the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, to show that the petals can be easily adjusted using the Puppet Warp Tool. The rose was much flatter and vertical, but by pinning and dragging around the points, the petals were pulled out to create a much more flattering arrangement. Also applied Topaz (for website, see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar) new Adjust AI filter to get the luminous petal effect. To learn the basics on how to use the Puppet Warp Tool (as in straightening buildings or objects), see my older short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! Tidbits Blog which is still good. And also check out my more recent Puppet Warp Replay Fun Photoshop Blog. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend – I am – nice to take a summer break! Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville sign at City Walk in Orlando, FloridaJust having some fun with this week and trying some new things out. This is the sign on the restaurant for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at City Walk in Orlando, Florida. So the reason this is rather “wonky” is because I decided it looked kind of good “wonky!” This sign was at the top of the building and was not shot straight on, so the sign on the right side was further away than the side on the left. There was lots of reflection in the restaurant windows in the original since it was taken during the brightest part of the day – totally awful! And the blue lettering and the parrot were almost indistinguishable in the sign. I thought this would make a good image to experiment with the brushes created in my How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting blog. First the image was cropped in Lightroom and then opened Photoshop where it was taken into the Edit -> Perspective Warp command to see if it could be salvaged. It actually did a pretty good job on it but there were a few disturbing areas. It was tweaked using the Edit -> Puppet Warp command and that is when it went “wonky” – I just started pulling and pushing the pins all over and got this really whimsical look that I liked – it looks like the sign is on the top of a sombrero. (For info on how to really use this tool effectively, see my short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! blog.)

It occurred to me that Puppet Warp is actually very similar to the Warp Tool in Free Transform (CTRL+T). On a New Layer on top the sky was blended using the Creative Toons Mixer brush from my linked blog. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was opened and an underpainting look was created. (Here are my settings: Topaz Detail 3 – used Abstraction II preset. Made changes to Tone Cyan-Red -0.69, Magenta-Green -0.12, and Yellow-Blue 0.09; Color Temperature 0.30, Tint 0.02, Saturation 0.05, and Saturation Boost 0.02; and Effect Mask – Painted out the effect off the bird’s face, trees, and Jimmy Buffett’s lettering using a Brush Strength of 0.45, Brush Size 0.11, Hardness 0.66, and Flow and Edge Aware at 1.00; and Overall Opacity set to 1.00.) This layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 89% layer opacity and on a layer mask the lettering was painted out to make the Jimmy Buffett’s lettering show up better. In the Layer Style dialog, the Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+click on the tab and pull apart) and set to 56/77 to really darken down the sky. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog) How I came up with this I do not know, but on another stamped layer above, the image was inverted by clicking on the layer and pressing CTRL+I – now it was all white looking. A black layer mask was added and just the same lettering was painted back. Looked terrible so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was added to turn the lettering from the ugly yellow to bright red – now you can see it. On another New Layer I used the SJ-Kahara Regular brush from my linked painting blog to paint on the sky around the the bird and trees to make them stand out a little more and add some interest to the night sky. On yet another stamped layer a Camera Raw Radial Filter was added to just the parrot’s head (hum) to bring the focus to him. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the green color in the image and that was about it. Oh yes, lastly added Jack Davis’s Wow Texture 02 (got this style along with many others from the CD in a little gem of a book called Adobe Photoshop 7 One Click Wow)– this to give a more painterly look. Whew!

Image inside the Trolley Train Ride at Universal Studios Orlando This image was shot looking up at the center from the stairs going up to get on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios Orlando. I really loved the bright colors but was not quite sure what to do with the image. It seemed like a good candidate to try a little Puppet Warping on, so that is what you see. In Lightroom the image was cropped and Seim’s Power Workflow 4 Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset was used to help with this issue. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, the Puppet Warp Tool was used. Once again, the mesh was turned off first. Then pins were stuck in each corner to hold the image still. The various pins were placed and dragged to get this crazy result. Back in Photoshop Topaz Adjust was opened and a preset I created called Negative Preset was applied with no changes. (Here are the settings: Global Adjustments Adaptive Exposure 0.07, Regions 50, Contrast -0.02, Brightness 0.00, Protect Highlights 0.02, and Protect Shadow; and Finishing Touches Warmth 0.18, Border Size 0.26; and Vignette Strength -1.00, Vignette Size 0.01, Vignette Transition 1.00, and Vignette Curvature 0.87.) It gave it a bit of the surreal look. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Member Freebie of July 2012-57 was applied and set to Hard Light blend mode at 61% layer opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+drag tab) and set to 125/191 and the white tab was also split and set to 215/255. This pulled back some of the texture from the image to get this kind of nice effect. Her Ultimate Texture Collection Chalkboard Burgundy was applied at Soft Light and 100% layer opacity. Three New Layers were added with painting on each to smooth out the white highlights in areas that were distracting. A stamped layer was created on top and set to Multiply blend mode and a white layer mask was used to bring back the texture details in the darker areas. Another stamped layer was created and my free SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style was applied with the default colors. I think it turned out to look a little scary!

Image of the Giraffes in a Store Sign at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios OrlandoThis was just too much fun to stop at one image. The puppet warp was used to warp another store sign in Seuss Landing at Universal Studios. These funny giraffes are from the first Dr. Seuss book called And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. I wanted to show a painterly image that had very little brush painting done in it – all done with filters and textures. Ran the same Shake Reduction Filter in Photoshop, selected the plain blue sky using the Select -> Color Range Tool, and added Melissa Gallo’s Painted Texture called June Seashore (I do not think it is available anymore) for a bluish sky that looked like painted clouds. Next a new texture by French Kiss called Color Wash Sage was added. What really made this image get this rather grainy illustrative look was in the layer style of the layer (double click on the layer to open). The Blend Mode was set to Color Dodge at 94% opacity and 95% Fill Opacity, and the Blend If This Layer White Tab was split (ALT+drag to get a smooth transition) and set to 224/255; the Underlying Layer Black tab was split and set to 29/47 and White tab split and set to 145/177. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top but a huge color shift occurred. This is because the blend mode of the texture below was set to Color Dodge and this happens – to get rid of this just set the stamped layer blend mode to Color. Decided to try the whole image in Topaz ReStyle and voila, instead of a blue image, I had pinks and warm tones which I really liked. (Here are the ReStyle Settings: colors based on Orange Peel preset – ReStyle Color Style Hue Fifth 0.53; Sat Fifth 0.41; and Lum Primary -0.48; Texture Strength 0.00; Basic Color Temperature -0.31, Tint 0.61, and Saturation 0.11; Tone Black Level -0.31, Midtones -0.02, and White Level 0.02; and Detail Structure 0.38 and Sharpness 0.16.) The last step added my SJ Thin Double Edge Frame on a top stamped layer – sampled colors in the image to get the frame colors.

Sometimes it is just fun to play with the different tools and see what results you get. I think I would get bored if I did the same workflow on every piece I did. Sometimes you have to when working on a special occasion or group of images, but it is kind of nice to take a break and try something different. Until next time – Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer


HOW TO ADD A DARKER BACKGROUND IMAGE FOR A DIFFERENT EFFECT

Two image of a lioness at the Jacksonville
This week I thought I would just show a creative way to present your subjects if you get tired of just using a single image. The above image is of a beautiful Lioness at the Jacksonville Zoo. This was supposed to be a sepia tone but after a lot of iterations, the cool tones looked the best to me. By using two images, it displayed her different expressions. These kind of composites can be really beautiful and are fun to do, especially if you have a couple images that compliment each other.

Here are the steps to get the above look: This image was originally post processed in Lightroom as a color image and settings were pasted between the images so they looked similar in tone. Then in a New Document in Photoshop a black background layer was created and the images were added. For the top face, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReMask was used to select the lion as a nice result could not be achieved with Photoshop’s Select and Mask command. For the foreground Lion, the Pen Tool was used to select her. I tried using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert this image to black and white, but it just did not work – the image looked degraded. Instead I used Topaz Studio’s Black and White filter – it has an Orange slider which really worked with a lion image (also Topaz has had the best color sliders since they started), Precision Detail, a Color Overlay using a charcoal blue color (#2e4e62), and Precision Contrast. Still needed something else, so Luminar (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Flex’s Image Radiance filter was added for the soft effect – it just popped this image. In the filter mask, the faces were painted back to retain the detail. A spotlight effect and rim lighting on the right side of both faces was added in Photoshop. Some Mixer Brush magic was used on the upper image to blend her neck into the background, and a Gradient Tool was used on a new layer to slightly darken the top face. This image took some manipulation to get the look I liked – luckily I like to play around with all the different filters! But I think the results can be quite outstanding.

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Image of white day lilies with some green leaves in the background
For a slightly different look, these Day Lilies taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens were put on a black background just like above, but this time a leaf image was added to the upper right edge to add a very subtle feel. (See my Beautiful Leaves Tidbits Blog for the original leaf image.) To get the flowers to light up so much, the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used. A little spotlight effect also helped and some leaves were drawn in to fill them out a little. Next Viveza 2 was used to blend the two images together seamlessly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used at the end to get the final look.

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Here is an older image taken several years ago in Arizona with yet a different way of using this kind of effect. In this case a box was added on top of the image where another image could be inserted. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to give the background image a really darker feel.

Image of Tonto National Forest and Superstition Mountain in Arizona

The above is actually a really simple technique. It used to be more popular and was used a lot in wedding photography. It is still a nice way to achieve a different effect.

Well hope you give this one a try – it is a lot of fun and if you have several good shots of something you like, it might look really nice. Will chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd


WHAT IS NEW IN THE PHOTOSHOP PLUGIN WORLD

Image of folk art at the Minsk Library in Belarus

Had a bit of a glitch last week and a blog was missed. Occasionally I will be skipping a week here or there but hopefully I can give you some notice. There is a lot going on in the Photoshop plugin world. Therefore this week here is a run down of recent plugin news and my take on it all.

  • On1 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) has released for free their On1 Effects Standalone 2019 – this contains just the Effects module and can be opened from inside Photoshop as a plugin. Personally I think this is Huge! I would suggest downloading it if you do not have and see what you think of their filter and preset effects. There is no link available for access to the On1 catalog or Develop module, just the Effects module. All the presets and filters are still available and all their brush tools. For me, my computer runs a little hard when using On1 so it helps when all the catalog info is not added – I am a Lightroom user so this is a bit of overkill for me. Smart objects can still be used to save all the settings for further adjustment as before.

Image of a Pink Hibiscus Tree in Maui, Hawaii

The Pink Hibiscus Tree image from Maui above used On1’s Effects LUTs filter called Campari set to 79%, Photo Filter at 58% opacity with Filter Type blue (#25425c), Lens Flare Type Sunspot, and Border using Sloppy Border 19. It is nice to be able to access their filters so quickly and I have always felt their borders are unmatched.

  • Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) released their latest update this week, this time to Topaz Adjust and it is now called Adjust AI. The AI effect can be turned off, set to standard or to an HDR Style. I am finding the HDR Style is interesting. The standard Adjust sliders are still available but they have added Precision Contrast and Precision Detail into the plug-in which adds a lot of extra versatility to the filter. Also available are Split Tone and Grain sections. Note that the presets can be found by clicking on the Blue Back circle at the top over the Navigator window – would not probably know that as it is not labeled. If you own Topaz Adjust, Topaz Detail, or Topaz Clarity already, it is a free upgrade. I will write a review soon on this plugin once I have had a chance to work with it on several different kinds of images. The hotel swimming pool shown below is one I did use it on just to show what it looks like.

Image of a hotel swimming pool in Palm Beach, Florida

One of my main issues with Topaz AI is that there is no way to mask out effects for each of the sections. Not sure why this has not been implemented yet, but I am sure they will soon. Also there is no way to adjust the strength in each of the sections except in the AI section. This image used the Standard AI setting at a Strength of 0.53. No Brightness sliders were used but the Micro Contrast slider was set to 0.26 and Medium 0.34 along with Detail Medium slider set to 0.39 – had to be very careful here as it can over-crunch the image with too much detail. What these settings did do is bring out the reflection in the water very nicely. Split Tone was set to Highlight Sat 0.25 and Hue 0.13, Shadow Sat 0.16 and Hue 0.69, and Balance of 0.26. My image was still too crunchy so the plugin was applied and a black layer mask added. Just the areas needed were painted back. I do believe that the image has that Adjust look to it. Added some elements from PixelSquid to add a little pizzazz to the image and the Brushed Rose texture from the Adobe Paper Texture Pro panel – set to 42% opacity and Overlay blend mode.

  • Just a note that Skylum’s Luminar 3 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) did update recently – mainly improving the catalog aspect of their program. My recent blog (see my Luminar Flex – Exactly What Is It? blog) explains why you should download Flex since the main program will not contain the Effects section of the program in the future.

Image of the grounds at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida

The image above was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens – I was really just testing the settings on my camera but the tree detail turned out incredible. Thought the image made another good example of using Luminar Flex. I am getting so I really like their filters. The above used Advanced Contrast, Structure, Top & Bottom Lighting, Image Radiance and LUT Mapping using my SJ Darkly Bright preset created in my video here. (LUT files made for PS can be used with Luminar also – just Import from LUT section and go to your .cube folder to load.) No Detail Enhancer used, just Structure. The bird object is my image and the Wolf is from PixelSquid.

  • DxO has released the Nik Collection 2 where 42 new presets were added (there are 10 new recipes for Color Efex Pro, 10 new B&W presets in Silver Efex Pro, 12 new HDR presets in HDR Efex Pro, and 10 new tool combos in Analog Efex Pro) in a new interface. Here is a link to a good review on this program. Regarding the old Nik (Google) Collection of plugins, there is a lot of confusion as to whether they still work. The problem is that the Nik Panel does not work but the filters all work just fine. Since I never used their panel (if using filter as a Smart Object Layer, the panel was not available). Since I always use a Smart Object for their filters, it has not been a problem for me. The work-around is to add a layer mask onto the Nik filter layer and brush the effect in or out on the mask. I have not tried out the newer version, but will be soon. As far as I can tell, the new presets are the major improvement.
  • The image at the top used Topaz Denoise AI which I am finding I really like and am using on almost every image. Usually I like to set the Noise Level lower (used 0.35) and Enhance Sharpen higher (used 0.70) – really works better for me than Topaz Sharpen AI at this point in time. Note that Topaz has now added their AI Clear as a choice in the Select a Model drop-down menu so you do not have to open Topaz Studio to use it.

Well hope this catches everybody up and you get a chance to check out the new things going on in the plugin field. It seems everything always comes out at once! Have a great start to your Summer!…..Digital Lady Syd


LUMINAR FLEX – EXACTLY WHAT IS THIS?

Image of a Queen Emma plant
I am a little late discussing this software, but I only recently got a chance to really try it out. Luminar (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Flex is basically a spin-off of the bigger program, Luminar 3, meaning your images are not being pulled into a catalog for sorting. Basically it just contains the filters. Currently it is a free program so if you own Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018, please go download it. Why? See the quote below from Skylum that pretty much sums up what is happening and why you need to download it:

“We’re fully committed to our desktop editing and organizing platform in Luminar 3. But we’ve heard from many current customers and several others that they want just our editing tools for enhancing their images when working in other apps.

Our goal is to develop Luminar as a comprehensive platform which will become your go-to photography tool. With your support, we’ll be there soon.

Current workflow – Both Luminar Plugin and Luminar 3 with Libraries offer plugin options for popular photography software.

Future workflow – With the next major version of Luminar, you’ll find plugins available only in Luminar Flex. The plugins workflow will be removed from Luminar with Libraries.”

It looks like Skylum has decided to create different modules, not unlike what On1 (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) has done with the Develop vs. Effects modules. I do not see this as a real problem since I do not use Luminar as a Raw Processor, even though their Develop filter is in Flex, to categorize my photos like Lightroom does at this point. I may decide to do this down the road, but at this point I mainly use Luminar 3 as a plugin with all their beautiful filters.

This macro image above is of a Queen Emma Lily plant, possibly my favorite bloom in my yard – you certainly notice them from the street. Luminar Flex was mainly used on this image – Accent AI Filter, Golden Hour, Advanced Contrast, and Detail Enhancer filters. A High Pass sharpen was used and Nik Viveza 2 was used on the front petal.

Both programs interface with most of the major programs including Lightroom and Photoshop. The Workspace names appear to have been renamed, but seem very similar between the two. Flex opens up with the Image Aware workspace but that can be changed by going into the the drop-down.

The major difference between the two programs at this point is with the new Accent AI 2.0 that is available with Luminar 3 but not yet with Flex – it is coming later this year (Flex is still using just Accent AI). Is this a deal breaker – not a problem since Luminar 3 still is supporting its filters but down the road it will probably only be available in Flex.

Regarding the Looks (presets), those made or used in Luminar 3 or Luminar 2018 are all compatible with the Flex, even the ones downloaded from other sites. You can either reinstall your custom Looks packs in Flex, or manually copy items between the Luminar Looks folders.

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Image of Lake Rowena at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida

This image was taken on the water’s edge of Lake Rowena at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in the heart of downtown Orlando, Florida. Hard to believe such a tranquil place is located in all this hustle and bustle! And yes, Luminar’s Flex was used – landscapes are Luminar’s specialty. These filters were used to get this soft cool effect on a very hot day: The first layer contained the wonderful Accent AI Filter and AI Sky Enhancer Filter – both set pretty high, just a little Golden Hour Filter and Foliage Filter, the Saturation and Vibrance Filter (toning down the color a little), and the Brilliance and Warmth Filter – then on a 2nd layer above, one of my favorite filters called Image Radiance was applied. To see if I liked the filter on this image, it was placed on its own layer and the Gradient was used to remove the effect off the clouds which had gotten way too soft. One thing to watch with the Luminar filters is they tend to over-saturate the image so in PS the Saturation/Vibrance Adjustment Layer was added and the Saturation reduced to -17, even after adjusting it in the plugin. I think I could have pulled up a chair and just enjoyed the view from this point for a while, but the flowers were waiting!

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Image of the center flowers in a Red Bromeliad

About all I can say is “Thank You Mike Moats” for teaching me many years ago how to do this! If you like macro photography, he is the guy to learn how to do it right! This was taken using Aperture Mode set to ISO 200, F/7.1, and -1/2 EV with my Nikkor 60 mm Lens with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro added to the lens. This center of a Neoregelia Bromeliad image from the Gardens was also taken into Luminar Flex and just a few filters were required to get this effect: Foliage Enhancer, Structure, Brilliance/Warmth, Top and Bottom Lighting (to reduce the top reddish bromeliad color from the actual bromeliad), and Details Enhancer (just using the Small slider) filters. Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) new DeNoise AI was used to remove some of the noise (this plugin is incredible and now AI Clear is included with it. This is pretty cool -first set the Remove Noise high to 0.72, Enhance Sharpness to 0, and applied; then added a mask and painted back with a small brush set to 30% just the areas that needed a little detail brought back like the centers of the blue flowers. Got both the sharpness and noise removal at once!) Not much else was done but to add a spotlight effect in the center. This was definitely a Tiny Garden inside a Big Garden! Here is how the interface looked for this image (click on image to see larger in Flickr):

Image of Luminar Flex interface

Bottom Line: Flex is definitely here to stay since it will be the only way in the future that Luminar’s filters can be accessed using Photoshop, which is what I like to do. I love Luminar’s filters because they are unique, and in a sort of odd way, their results always make me happy. I like it when my photos make me smile so that is probably why I am a big fan. Please check Luminar Flex out – it is much more than just their Sunrays and AI filters – very easy to use and the program does not make your computer go into crazy mode to apply them. It is so exciting to have so many choices and new ways of applying effects being available to us Photoshop nuts who totally love this! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

 


MY ANIMAL BUDDIES THAT TOOK OVER MY BLOG

Image of a Great Flamingo

Since it is the Memorial Day Holiday here in the U.S., I am letting my Animal Buddies take over the the blog and I am going to play hookie. (Hope you all have a sense of humor!) With that, will see you in a couple weeks after a blog breather! Take it away guys!

I am a beautiful Greater Flamingo showing off my new pink beak polish (DLS: Where in the world did she get this?) at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. Syd took a selfie for me that involved a bit of post-processing in Photoshop to get my gorgeous looking beak. (DLS: To be honest, she had a pretty bright pink beak as it was). There’s a whole bunch of us in the pen – we love to dance and follow each other around. Please come and visit me and my large family. You can find us on the Main Path – we love it when people visit! (She has some really colorful, noisier relatives called Caribbean Flamingos further back in the zoo so visit them also – see my short blog called I Am Feeling So Sleepy!) (Check out Image 1 for pix info at end of blog.)

***** Image of a Ring Tailed Lemur at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Hi Everyone! Nice to have someone visit! I totally love living here at the Lemurs of Madagascar Exhibit at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. If you come by early when the Farm just opens, you can enjoy breakfast with me. I am a Ring Tailed Lemur and our family is headed by a female. I always check out my breakfast of tamarind and flowers carefully – I don’t like to share my food. (DLS: I think we’re seeing here a very picky eater!) I also have to share my quarters with several Red Ruffed Lemurs (Here is one sunbathing from a previous Flickr link). Usually after breakfast we all do a group sunbathe in the morning. Come on by and say “Hi” to us – we will be glad to entertain you for awhile. We have lots of fun here! (Check out Image 2 for post work on this image.)

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Image of an Eastern Bongo at the Jacksonville Zoo, Florida

OK, Syd thinks I wanted to eat her! Not really – I do not like to eat animals, strictly a vegetarian here. I just thought I would give her a different pose since she seemed upset I was not looking at her so she could take my picture. I am called an Eastern Bongo, which in your lingo is antelope, and there are some pretty weird stories about my species on the Jacksonville Zoo website. It says I can hang from branches by my horns and drop on unsuspecting hunters in the forest. Really??? I have never done that in my life! Where do these tales come from??? Come on by – I am near the Plains of East Africa section and either me or one of my family will be glad to give you a nice camera pose. (See Image 3 below for pix info.)

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Image of Spoonbill at the Jacksonville Zoo, Florida

Excuse me while I get situated here! I am not sure what happened! Oh my – this is embarrassing! Well apparently Syd got a shot of me at my worst! I am an African Spoonbill – not pink like the pink Roseate Spoonbills that are always flying into our River Valley Aviary at the zoo this time of year. I spend most of my time walking in the water looking for a seafood lunch, but sometimes I like to hang out on big branches. Did you know I am the size of a 3-year old human? I will be very happy to pose for you, but do not get too close or I will run away (DLS: or lose your balance?). (Image 4 has info this pix.)

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Digital Art of a Dolphin's Playground

DLS: Uh….Where did these guys come from? Hi – we are dolphins that are a figment of Syd’s imagination so we decided to make an appearance even though you can’t come visit us. Pretty nice digs though? I think she was thinking about Hawaii or maybe sailing in the Bahamas. Either place is fine since we will fit in anywhere. I know Syd loves dolphins so you will probably see us make other appearances in the future. Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday and celebrating like us! (Image 5 info below.)

All us animal buddies hope you enjoyed out blog this week. It was really fun to do something different and help Syd out with her blog. She will be back soon with more tips and maybe, just maybe she will let us do this again down the way. Everyone have a great weekend and come see us!…..Animal Buddies for Digital Lady Syd

Image Information:

Image 1: Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) DeNoise AI was applied first on the image first. Her background was created in Topaz Studio using the Impression Adjustment and the Chalk Smudge III preset where the bird was painted out. Precision Detail and Precision Contrast adjustments were used on the bird. PS’s Fan Flat Blend mixer was used to paint in the bird feathers, neck and head. The Topaz ReStyle filter was applied using the Cadet Gray and Copper preset – lots of changes in there to get the nice texture on the background. On a stamped layer, Skylum’s Luminar 3 (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) plugin was opened and Joel Grimes Details Warmth preset was applied at 52%. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer and a Levels Adjustment Layer Vignette. The font is called Style Casual, one of my favorites but is not free.

Image 2: Not much with done with my little friend here. In Topaz Studio AI Clear was applied to sharpen him up a bit. A little dodge and burning with Curves Adjustment Layers and an On1 Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 36% was used to pull the image colors together a bit. The font is a free one called kb Sickboy. That was about it.

Image 3: This pix was hard to post process since he was cut out of a larger image. I had to use a Blur in the background to create the DOF I wanted. The color was hard to get close to what he looked like – easy to over-color here and I am still not sure it is that accurate but he looks good. Topaz Sharpen AI was set to Stabilize and the defaults. Then just the standard (for me) dodge and burning, Nik Viveza 2, Spotlight layer and Curves Adjustment Layer to finish up.

Image 4: This Spoonbill took me a long to get right as I had a little trouble with the white feathers. Also the background was just too sharp so that had to be softened a bit. And then pretty much the same ole workflow – edges had to be cleaned up, a little sharpening, and contrast added. The font is another one of my favorites called Honey Script.

Image 5: This image was just total fun and tons of layers. The main attractions, the two dolphins, palm trees, and flying birds are all from my favorite object place, PixelSquid. The square effect is from a free action called Inception by Sparklestock which is what started me on make this composite. The waterfall is a brush from a set by Frostbo called Waterfall Set 2. The waves in the water are more brushes from Aaron Blaise’s water brushes. The overall soft effect was created by going into Luminar 3 using their new AI Filter 2.0 and AI Sky Enhancer filters along with another favorite, the Radiance filter, which gave the overall soft feel to the image. The not free font is called Fratello Nick. Nik Viveza 2 was used to even out the color in the palm fronds. Then just my basic workflow. I love doing this kind of image!