Basically this blog is showing that filters or plug-ins do not have to be applied on a layer with the second one applied on top of the first one on the same layer, but rather they can be applied to the same original duplicated layer and by using layer masks the desired effects from can be inserted. This image above followed a workflow that followed my Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 and Topaz Clarity Together? Tidbits Blog from a few years ago. It had been a while since HDR Efex Pro2 (part of the free download from Google-Nik) was used so it seemed like a good time to try it out again. The original image from the Tidbits Blog is shown below. This image was taken yesterday at the 28th Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. The displays and costumes really give a nice variety for those who love photography (and the vendors and show organizers are some of the nicest people!). The focus area of the two teapots show more of the HDR plug-in effect and the rest of the image has more of the Topaz Clarity filter effect. Any plug-ins can be used this way, these are just what I was using for this image.
HDR Efex Pro 2
The image was first opened in Lightroom where it was brightened up just a bit. Then in Photoshop, the background was duplicated, converted to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), and HDR Efex Pro2 was opened from the Filters menu. Note: you do not have to be shooting HDR photos to use this plug-in – it works fine with just one image. (For info on how to use if shooting with more than one image, see my How To use Google (Nik) HDR Efex Pro 2 Blog.) This is another one of those huge plug-ins with lots of sliders and presets to play around with on your images so the Smart Object allows you to go back and adjust it if it look wrong (double click on the thumbnail in the Layer Panel). In this case the Outdoor 2 preset was applied. One of the best things in this plug-in is the Levels & Curves section where besides RGB and the individual channels, there is a the Luminosity Curve that can be adjusted – this was done for this image. The curve was pulled downward to get a nice overall effect. Then the Tonality section Structure slider was set to 31% and the Color Temperature was set to -20% and Saturation 19%. That was all that was done to this preset.
Now for the Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Clarity part. This is one of my favorite Topaz plug-ins partly because of the versatility in it. The HDR Efex layer was turned off and the background duplicated again and set just above the background layer. Since the HDR Efex layer had way too much contrast for the softer vintage effect I wanted, a preset that I created for painting was applied in Clarity. It totally softens the whole image but the colors looked really good. (Here are the settings if you are interested: Clarity Dynamics Micro Contrast -0.86, Low Contrast -0.86, Medium Contrast 0.63, and High Contrast 0.94; Tone Level Black Level -0.19, Midtones -0.36, and White Level 0.19; HSL Filter Hue – no changes; Sat Orange 0.06, Yellow 0.63, Green 0.13, Blue 0.25 0.25, and Overall -0.45; and Lum Orange 0.36, Yellow -0.34, Green -0.42, Blue 0.61, Purple 0.11, Magenta 0.75, and Overall -0.27 – all other colors were 0.00. Adjust these settings around if they do not quite fit the effect you want.)
The HDR Efex layer was turned on and a black layer mask was added (press ALT key while clicking the layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel). Just the areas where more contrast was needed was painted back into the image – mainly around the teapots where the focal point is. A round brush set to 50% opacity was used so edges were not too sharp.
Photoshop Brushes for Clean up
Some of the background in the curtains did not look so nice, so the brushes were brought out to paint in some colors and blend some colors on a New Layer. It is so handy to have a good Regular Brush and Mixer for clean up. A pastel with rough edges was used to paint over some greenish shadow colors that did not fit the image. The brush can be downloaded from SDW Haven Pastel Brushes Part 1 – it is the last brush or 11th brush in this free set. (These are the settings used for the brush: Brush Tip Shape: I like it as a small size so it is set to 8 pixels but enlarge it often, Angle 137 degrees, Roundness 100% and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics: Angle Jitter 42%; Texture – Rough located in PS Erodible Textures (load by clicking texture patter, then on the cog wheel and Load Erodible Textures, and set to Scale 87%, Brightness -45, Contrast 0, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50%, Depth Jitter 1%, and Control Off; and check Smoothing.) This brush also clean up funny colored edges nicely – just ALT+click in the image on the color to sample, and lightly paint in. I usually paint at 67% opacity with this brush.
Then an overall soft Mixer blender was used to mix up the edges. The brush I use is by David Belliveau from Paintable – here is a link to his free brushes and his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog. David does a great job explaining how to use brushes in Photoshop. On the clean up layers, I just kept going back and forth between the Regular and the Mixer brush adding color and blending until the color and edges look smooth. The Mixer also does a great job of softening lines that appear too sharp in the background. I use these two brushes all the time to both clean up images and paint in Photoshop.
Finishing Up the Image
Last steps involved adding on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 with adjustments to the Crisp Morning Run preset. A Spot Mask was used over the center pots so they were not affected as much by the plug-in. Duplicated the layer and applied Nik Viveza 2 to further sharpen the two middle teapots and add a little more saturation to that area. Duplicated the layer again and Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Silver Reflector filter coming from the left was applied – just to add a softer effect and emphasize where the light was. Using these three plug-ins one after the other is an example of applying them onto each other and no masking was involved. Therefore the effects of Texture Effects is in the image where Nik Viveza 2 was applied which is in the results of applying the Lens Effects filter. If you wanted to get down to the original Background effect, many masks were have to be created. Subtle but significant difference.
Overall HDR Efex Pro and Clarity are not a bad combination for getting some nice effects in Photoshop. Both images used the filters discussed above. Each filter was added on its own duplicated Background layer and then the parts of the image to be concealed were masked in or out on each layer. For the top image it just did not look as good when one filter was applied over the other one. This is really important to remember if you are liking the effect in two different filters – they do not have to both be applied over each other – just mask in or out what you like on separate layers. And do try out the brushes – they work really well together. Hope everyone is coping with the winter and staying warm. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd
For some reason I have been sort of fixated on how to create a nice wintry feel in an image without getting fake falling and unnatural looking snow. This week I will show a couple ways I use to create a more natural snow and piling up effect in my images. Its a lot in the brushes!
The image above is of a pretty red budded plant (unable to find the name in my resources) that was growing at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. In a short Corey Barker video called Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video, a fabulous brush was created to add the falling snow in exactly the places it needs to be. Corey gives very clear steps to creating this brush that uses PS Noise Filter, PS Gaussian Blur, a Levels Adjustment, and Gradient Tool to make the basic brush. Then changes are made in the Brush Panel to the Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Transparency, and Brush Tip sections. This brush was then saved as both a brush and Tool Preset – size is 1000 pixels. Corey uses this brush not for just snow but anywhere that particles are needed like fire sparks and rain effects.
Now to processing the image. Once some random flakes are added to the image, Corey suggested adding a subtle Motion Blur to the flakes (Angle 75 and Distance 11) which makes the flakes look more realistic without doing anything else. Add a New Layer and make the brush smaller (500 pixels) to build up more dense snow around the plant branches. The layer opacity can be controlled for each snow layer to give the effect wanted. Also layer masks can be added to remove flakes where unwanted. A stamped layer was placed on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Black & White Effects was opened. In the filter, the Local Adjustments brush section was used to bring back the color in the image where I wanted it. The filter’s Color Brush was used to paint in the red buds and using a lower opacity, the green leaves were painted in. This softened the background a lot but color could still be introduced – in PS the layer opacity was set to 76%. On a New Layer more snow was painted in using the smaller sized Particle Snow brush again. This is how the lower leaves show snow building up on the leaves. A basic Mixer brush was used on a New Layer to add dabs of white paint for snow – I used Fay Sirkis’s Pet Pastel Underpainting Highlight Photoshop brush (I can’t seem to locate a resource with her brushes right now). But any small sized Mixer brush (45 pixels) will probably work – in the Options Bar set the mixer combination field to Dry and turn on the Load the Brush After Each Stroke with the color set to the snow color and just paint in the snow. Next a text layer with some icicles hanging from the letters were added on layers above using the free Frostbo Ice Brush 01 for the icicles. The last step was a Levels Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast. I feel like this plant looks like it is in a “winter wonderland” and not a sunny Florida garden.
This image of the St. Johns Tower Entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle turned out to be lots of fun to convert to a spooky winter image. The original image was taken on a sunny day in August so it has definitely been winterized. First Topaz Clarity was used to sharpen the image overall. Then the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter, Topaz Glow, and Lucis Pro were all used to get a really sharp and correct image. At this point I was just trying out different plug-ins and this is what I ended up using. Now the snow was painted in. A free set of very basic star brushes was downloaded by KeReN-R on DeviantArt and 4 brushes were used to paint in a lot of the snow (Sample Brushes 4 – see next paragraph on how to adjust this brush, 6, 8, and 19). Also Grut’s FX Inky Leaks Bottle Topple and Romato brushes were used to give the wet slick look on the street and steps (many brushes in this set would make great snow brushes). This step was a lot of fun to do! At this point Corey’s Particle Brush could be used, but instead I took the image into Topaz Texture Effects 2 and used the Winter Day I preset which contains a snow texture. A Spot Mask was used on the entrance so it could be adjusted a little differently. Back in PS the layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur with radius set to 250 pixels to really blur the image. Then it was set to the Subtract blend mode. The same entrance area was painted out in a layer mask. This darkened the image down immensely. On a New Layer white was painted in the entrance and set to overlay blend mode. Another New Layer for snow was used and some snow effect painting around the doorway in front using the Grut Bottle Topple brush. On a stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to really pull out the lighting effect in the doorway and to darken down the on the street. There was a lot of trial and error on this image and I personally believe that is how to actually pull this look together.
I am using Sample Brush 4 in the KeReN-R Star Brushes a lot to get the nice piling up effect of snow. These settings were changed in the Brush Panel to get a really great snow smoothing and piling brush: In Brush Tip Shape: Change size from 773 px to 150 px and leave Spacing at 25%; check Shape Dynamics and set Angle Jitter to 9%; and leave all other settings alone. In the Options Bar turn on the icon next to the Opacity amount so pen pressure will increase or reduce the amount of snow added. This creates a really nice brush to build up snow in any image.
Above is an image I painted showing how a duck sees the beauty in his home during a light snow that we humans do not get a chance to appreciate. It was initially painted in Corel Painter by first adding a lot of the basic elements and grasses. Just enjoying painting at this point. Then the image was opened in PS and many more details were added. In this case the snow was painted in using Corey’s Particle Brush and the snow was built up using the Snow Build Up brush (sampled brush 4) and sampled brush 6. Many more plant elements were added along with the duck. Topaz ReStyle was used to change the color scheme from a warmer one to a color for a more wintry look. This is a good example of how to use these snow brushes when doing creative painting.
It is very handy to have the snow in brush format as opposed to a large vector overlay. I hope you will try creating these two basic snow brushes if you enjoy making wintry scenes. I am still experimenting with them, and trying out other brushes. I like the overall effect of these two brushes and am using them a lot to just add a little wintry effect to a cooler image. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd
This week just a few details and free goodies to start your year.
The trees, reflection and small plants were painted in Corel Painter using mainly Karen Bonaker’s wonderful free painter brushes – so many choices here so I will not go through them all – actually do not remember them all! I am sure most Painter people have all these brushes, but if you are new to Painter, check out the link for a great website and to get a huge assortment of great brushes (and Karen’s classes are terrific – she usually includes new brushes and teaches how to adjust them). The image was saved as a PSD file to be opened up in Photoshop.
In PS a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) composed of the Painter layers was created and then duplicated. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects 2 was applied to the top layer to create the basic soft background (used Dingy Cream preset and made tweaks).
On another Stamped Layer on top, Corel ParticleShop (these brushes can also be bought and used in Painter) was opened and the Wild Grain brush and the Fur brush were used to add a little more detail to the image. What is really nice is that only the changes to the layer are brought down on the layer that was duplicated – it was set to 44% layer opacity and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the ParticleShop layer. The Adjustment Layer was needed as the colors from ParticleShop were a little too vivid and needed to be slightly desaturated.
Jai Johnson’s free Flying Birds overlay was added – a few birds were painted out with a layer mask and a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer using a gravelly stone looking pattern was clipped to the birds to give them some texture. Set the bird layer to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity.
On top Texture Times Bokeh Number 5 was set to Overlay blend mode at 48% layer opacity.
A couple text layers using the free font called Winter Holidays by Vintage Voyage Design Company from Creative Markets – need to get on their newsletter list to get all kinds of wonderful free PS items each week. A Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer words and added a red and gold Pattern Overlay style to fill font with color and a 2 pt Stroke style around the letters. Used a layer mask to paint out parts of the lettering – note to make this look right be sure to check the “Layer Mask Hides Effects” in the Blending Options section.
A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast – pulled the curve down a little bit.
On a Stamped layer the free Nik Viveza 2 plug-in was applied using only one Control Point on the tree leaves to add a little more detail with the Structure slider.
Added a Black & White Adjustment Layer and adjusted mainly just the Reds to pop the image – viewed in B&W then converted to color by setting the adjustment layer to Luminosity blend mode.
It is not really as complicated as it seems. Many steps that were pretty much my regular workflow. At least take a minute to check out some of the wonderful people who still supply us Photoshop Nuts with free products that make our images unique. Hope you have a great New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd
These beautiful flowers are called Dalmation Purple Foxgloves and were actually a deep magenta color. I wanted a Christmas feel in the image, so they are now red! Got to love Photoshop! So how did I turn these interesting blooms into red – used the Selective Color Adjustment Layer. This is a very good choice for changing a particular color in your image. Just start by choosing the color you want to change – in this case the Magentas and then go through and adjust each color’s sliders until the correct overall color is achieved. This image also adjusted the Whites, Neutrals and Blacks to adjust the color cast in those areas. Definitely takes a little experimentation with this Adjustment Layer. On New Layers the beautiful sparkles were created using Pretty Presets Sparkle Dust and Magic Dust Brushes from their Holiday Magic action. Love these fancy brushes although Obsidian Dawn has really nice glitter brushes too. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Textures 2’s Grunged preset was applied as is. Nik Viveza 2 was used to draw a little extra focus to the lower right petal. A Bevel and Emboss (a Cold Press Pattern was used) and Outer Glow layer styles were added A Bevel and Emboss (a Cold Press Pattern was used) and Outer Glow layer styles were added to the font. To further enhance the petal edges, individual Darken and Lighten layers were created and a small brush set to black and/or white at 12% brush opacity which was used to paint the edges in (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog) and reduced the layer opacity so it did not look overdone. The last step was to create a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer (see my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog).
Lots went into this image – many painted brush layers and wonderful Christmas items. I love doing Christmas collages. I will not bore you with all the items, but let me know if you wonder about any of them. Hope everyone is having a wonderful time and enjoying being together! Merry Christmas!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I wanted to do a quick blog on how to get that Holiday glow look that is so nice to have in Christmas cards or Holiday Facebook/Instagram images. The above is definitely a composite image. I will say this image took several hours to get to a point where it began to look like the image I envisioned.
When I started out, I knew I wanted to do a Christmas theme and wanted a child to be part of the image. So first the image of the Native American boy was found from in a batch of pictures taken several years ago from a festival. I love to go to these festivals as the costumes and people are just wonderful! The boy had to be removed from the background, so in CC2017, the Select and Mask panel was used to get a really nice cut-out. I always have to go back into the layer mask and do a bit more tweaking. The mask was applied and this layer was moved into a New Document to start the composite. Since PixelSquid is my go-to program for finding objects, the reindeer and wolf were downloaded from them and lined up in the document with the child. (See my How To Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog.)
Glow Effect 1: Now for some Glow – highlighted the reindeer layer and took it into Corel ParticleShop to add some pizazz and turn him into Rudolf. Last week I did a blog on this, and am using the same brush set here. (See my Intro to Corel ParticleShop Brushes for Photoshop blog.) The Cluster brush was used to add the glitter to the antlers. The Flame brush was used to add some snowy feel to the ground. The Light brush was used on the nose to get a shining light – added red color first, then yellow and a dab of white to finish it off. The Hair brush was used to create the background Christmas tree with the Cluster brush set to white to add snow on it. Back in PS just the changes were on their own layer. This plug-in is actually very easy and a lot of fun to use!
Next some grass was added and a background texture (French Kiss’s le Petit Chateau – for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was placed just above the white original background layer. The neutral color fit the image as too much color would have drawn the eye away from the story.
Glow Effect 2: This week Pretty Photoshop Actions gave away a really nice Photoshop Action called Holiday Magic. (Sign up for the newsletter to get some great give-aways all the time!) This is a really nice action but their video needs to be watched to really understand how it works. It contains overlays, brushes and the 3 major actions. In the above, the Book Glow action was run first, which added the extra lightness around the nose to indicate a large glow. Next the Brush Applicator Action was run where the fancy snow flakes were added around Rudolf and the tree using their supplied brushes. There is one trick you need to use if you want to run the action in the middle of your workflow. At the point where the actions needed to be added, I had to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and name the layer “Background” before running the action. The action will be looking for the Background layer for it to run. Once I finished up with the action, this Background layer was deleted so more editing could be done on all the layers.
Lots of clean up layers were added to get the exact color effects. Several Color Fill Layers (set to Color blend mode and various layer opacities) were used along with many Curves Adjustment Layers to tweak the contrast. What really brought the effect together was creating a stamped layer on top and applying Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (I so wish this plug-in were still available as it is really incredible), and set to a high Smooth of 21 and just a little Detail adjustment of 189. Then this layer was set to 60% layer opacity so it was not too soft.
Last steps were adding the now free Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focal points, a Curves Adjustment Layer with a Red Channel Luminosity layer mask (see my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog), and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode to make sure tones were correct (see my How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog).
I do not expect you to do all these steps, but I wanted to give a good example of what can be done with a few nice tools. The Glow effect got me thinking about what wondrous Holiday effects could be achieved with composites. I find creating composites takes a lot of work but I always feel good about them when finished.
This rose is a pretty basic example of a Christmas Glow that can be achieved pretty quickly. This rose was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. It is a painted image using regular and mixer brushes in Photoshop – nothing too hard about painting this image so no special brushes were required. After painting, used Photoshop’s Select and Mask to select the flower. The layer mask was applied and two of my Corel Painter backgrounds were added under the cut-out flower.
Glow Effect 1: Once again, Corel ParticleShop was opened up and this time the Cluster brush was set to Size 156 and Opacity 45% set to a glow yellow color – painted around the flower to get the lit up effect. Used the Eraser brush in the plug-in to remove any mistakes. If the colors look a little strong on the PS layer, use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) to the layer to desaturate just the ParticleShop layer. Mine looked real orange.
Glow Effect 2: The glow was just not quite enough for me. Aaron Blaise’s Canvas Texture Brush Set 42 3 is a brush that has a slight edge around it so the strokes will give a glow effect when used with a lighter color. It amazes me where you can find that special brush from ones you already own! The foreground color was set to a bright light yellow and on a New Layer, the Cluster brush lines were painted over again. This layer was then adjusted down to 95% layer opacity.
My snow overlay was set to 32% and can be downloaded free at my Deviant Art site. I think this gives yet another nice Holiday card effect that you might be able to use.
Know everyone is very busy at this time of year, but hope you got a few good ideas for adding a little Holiday Cheer to some of your images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I am going to do a quick post on the Corel ParticleShop plug-in for Photoshop. Lots of ParticleShop info is on YouTube about how to use this plug-in, so this blog is just a quick introduction. Thought I would show the before and after applying the filter to the images to give a feel for what these brushes can do. The tree image above was taken in Florida and there was absolutely nothing that great about it. Below is the original image after coming out of Lightroom where just the basic sliders were adjusted.
The plug-in is now accessed from the Filter menu in Photoshop so it is really easy to open up once the program has been loaded. The Exclusive Pack of brushes are loaded when the basic plug-in software is purchased. It consists of 10 different brushes that represent some of the various brush sets you can buy at Corel. This image used three brushes – the Cluster Brush, the Fur Brush and the Flame Brush. The brushes do have a bit of a Painter brush feel to them, as there are several extra variations for the some of the brushes that PS does not offer. All the brushes offer Size and Opacity and the option to turn on pressure sensitivity for both. The Fur Brush also offers a Value Variability – set to 0 and the brush paints with 100% selected color. When set to the max 50%, 50% of the Color Picker Triangle values are added into the stroke. Somewhat like PS Brush Panel’s Color Dynamics Brightness Jitter slider. The Color Picker can be pinned to the interface and there is a Glow checkbox that can be added to your strokes. Set Glow to a darker color to get a full range from dark to light on your stroke. In this case, the tree leaves were brightened using the Cluster Brush to give that special effect to the little tree and the red tree branches. There is also an Eraser brush to remove unwanted strokes and soften areas and Mixer brush to blend the effects. Several people recommended using the Eraser at a very low opacity to smooth as opposed to using the Mixer which tends to smear a little. What I really like about this program is that you have the option to save just the brush strokes made on the image to its own layer in PS where you can further manipulate the results.
I was very skeptical when Corel came out with these brushes since I use Painter and the Particle Brushes are not ones I use much. Therefore, why would I want to use them in PS? After experimenting with them, I found these brushes can be useful for getting a special effect to finish off an image. I really liked the effect in the image above. Adding them in at the end of the workflow seems to work best for me. As far as I am concerned, the only problem with these filters is the cost – by the time you buy most of the packs, it gets very expensive. I have been having trouble figuring out which extra packs are the best for doing the enhancements I like without getting them all.
Here is another image that used the ParticleShop filter brushes – this time just the Cluster brush was used on the individual stalks using purple and darker brown colors. It can be seen how much more color is in the image by just adding a few colorful strokes onto the stalks. In Photoshop, this layer was set to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity. To finish up the image, Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Texture Effects 2’s 90s Cloud preset was applied, and next Topaz Impression 2. The original color from the Cluster Brush strokes layer gave the other filters more colors to work with to get the overall final image. Below is the image as it looked coming from Lightroom with just basic slider adjustments.
My final example is of my crazy dancing diva Snowy Egret that I painted a while back. To see the original image, click this link. This image is a little over-the-top, but I wanted to see what I could get for fun. This time the Fabric brush was used to create the long light lines surrounding the bird, the Cluster Brush (I seem to like this one a lot) was used on some of the feathers in the bird body, and the Wild Grain brush (which includes Count and Grain settings) was used in parts of the ground and background areas.
Basically these brushes are a lot of fun. As far as I can tell, there is no free download to try them out. I would love to be able to afford all the brushes, but the basic pack that comes with the plug-in is pretty good. It might make a nice extra Christmas present for the the die-hard Photoshop person. Hope everyone is enjoying the start of the holiday season. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
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This week I decided to do some compositing just because its fun to do. There are a lot of reasons to do this besides being fun, like it teaches you to really be aware of your light source and shadows to get a realistic looking the image. Also it gives you a chance to use some of the Photoshop tools and techniques that are not used that often. And finally, by choosing each object a good story can be created in the image.
I have always loved this image of a yellow corvette taken quite a while ago and just had not found a good place to use it. So this is where the compositing process began for me on this image. Since I started with the object first, a suitable background needed to be found to start my story. The image used was of some beautiful trees in Madison, Mississippi. If you are into compositing, it is important to take a few photos to use as background images – places where anything could be added to make an interesting image. The yellow in the car and the greenish yellow image seemed to be a good fit. The colors of the objects is important in composite images to help blend the objects together in a natural way.
After adding all the objects, the light and time of day of the background image needed to be considered to once again, blend in the objects naturally. Everything added to the image must fit with the scene. The blanket, cooler and picnic table were all downloaded from PixelSquid, but I could have used my own images of these objects. The following is a basic workflow on how this image was put together and a couple tricks I have learned along the way.
Preparing Objects for Placement
So this is where the PS tools and techniques come in handy. The car was sitting in a field with a bunch of other cars around it and a fence behind it. Just a little color adjustment was done in Lightroom before opening up the car in PS. It was removed from its background using PS CC2017 and the Select and Mask panel – the Quick Selection Tool was first used to select the car, and then the edges were refined using the Refine brush. Also the windshield was removed in this panel. Any selection tool or filter that removes backgrounds could have been used, I am just finding the new Select and Mask panel pretty nice to use. I also noted that the light was not shining on the car in the t direction – another problem to address later.
Background Image Prep
Now the Tree image was opened up in PS after just some minor adjustments in LR. Several items were removed in the image using the Spot Healing Brush. Next the corvette was placed in the image and positioned – used Free Transform (CTRL+T) to fit it in correctly. I decided the image needed to be expanded on the lower level to make the image look balanced so the car layer was deleted. In CC2017 the Crop Tool was used and Content-Aware was checked to fill in the Options Bar. Note that the Content-Aware option only works with the Crop Tool on a single layer. Therefore, either the image must be merged down at this point or crop the image first before adding your objects. I found I still had to do a little clean up after the additional pixels were added.
Adding Objects into Image
The car was again placed in the image – you can either use the Move Tool and drag to the composite image tab, go down to the image, and release; or use the old fashion way which is to select (CTRL+A) and copy (CTRL+C) in the object image, then paste (CTRL+V) in composite image. I use both. The car was Free Transformed (CTRL+T), and a layer mask was added to the car to remove the incorrect shadows in front of the car. Next the picnic table, cooler and blanket were added from PixelSquid (see my How To Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog – it is no longer in beta testing but is a pay to use program.) The shadows for these objects could be manipulated with the downloaded objects.
To get the objects to look like they really belonged together, some of the foreground areas had to slightly overlap parts of the blanket, tires, and table legs. So layer masks were used to add this effect in on each object. A very small brush was used to get this effect – try using different brushes in the mask to get a more natural result. The area seen through the windshield of the car had to be slightly blurred , so the Blur Tool, which I almost never use, was selected and just painted in a bit of softening to the windshield. It worked great!
Adding Some Special Effects
A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top and Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Impression 2 was opened. The Degas I preset was applied at around 40% – that was all that was changed in this preset. The layer was duplicated and Topaz Glow’s Oh Hey preset was applied at 30% – this filter does a great job of applying an overall lightening to an image. (These settings were from a Flickr friend, K Vaughn, who used them in one of her images – she is a master with these filters!) On another duplicated layer, Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and a downloaded Community preset called FallFoliage Fall Trees was applied with a little manipulation to the Vignette and Basic Adjustment sections. Each image will use slightly different settings in these sections. The Light Leak had to be flipped horizontally to keep the lighting consistent in the image.
To really soften the edges of the objects, individual New Layers were added to paint in some correction color. For example, on the blanket, a little dark paint was added to give it more of a rumpled feeling on the grass – just used a soft round brush and set the layer opacity to 13%. A little lighter color was added to the right side of the cooler using a dab of light yellow and set to 60% layer opacity. To add a little lighter coloration to the front right area of the car, a little light color was added to just highlight it, and the layer opacity was set to 20%. Even the background was tweaked slightly to blend the image and give that vintage feel. This trick was learned from a wonderful class by Karen Alsop on Creative Live called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World. Check out Karen’s website for some great compositing images! Some darker shadow effect was needed under the car, so this same technique was used there also – the shadow will be darker right under the car and blended out softly the further away it gets. The layer opacity was then adjusted down a little. This can also be used for the atmospherics in the image – where the further away you look towards the horizon line, especially in landscapes, the more muted the colors become.
The overall image appeared to be too yellow to me so a blue (R156/G161/B220) Color Fill Adjustment Layer was set to Color blend mode and 13% layer opacity to offset this. Blue is opposite Yellow on the Color Wheel so this will serve to curb the yellow color somewhat.
Finally, a little more definition was needed in a couple areas of the image. The area around the headlights was burned. The trees were slightly darkened behind the brighter areas of the light trees to separate the branches a little. To do this, a New Layer was opened, set to Overlay blend mode, and with a soft black brush set to 12% layer opacity, just painted over these areas. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) The layer was set to 57% layer opacity.
Now the image is complete! I was pleased that it tells a story, has the vintage feel I was after, and the components all fit together well (using tools and techniques I do not always use) – to me that is what a composite should do when done correctly! It does take a little effort to create a good composite, but it is well worth time if it turns out the way you want it. I know there are lots of ways to create composites, this is a pretty complicated one, but they are fun to do! Hope everyone in the US has a great Thanksgiving Holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd