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HOW TO GET A GREAT ILLUSTRATIVE EFFECT WITH LUCIS PRO 6.0.9

Image of the Flagler Kenan Pavilion at Flagler Museum in Palm BeachI was going to take a break from posting this week, but felt I had to share what is going on with the Lucis Pro 6.0.9 plug-in – they are closing their site and are offering this fabulous plug-in for sale at just $6 if bought before September 1, 2016 (UPDATE: This offer is extended until September 6, 2016 at noon PST – a nice short video on the plug-in has been added called Lucis Basics if you are interested in what it is actually doing to your image). If you are interested in this effect at all, it is definitely worth the $6 to purchase it – it works fine in Photoshop CC 2015.5 and CS6. I have not tried other versions of Photoshop, but I believe it would work fine. I am finding I use this plug-in a lot – sometimes at just a very low layer opacity to sharpen up details and it can reduce noise in one particular noisy channel. This image of the Flagler Kenon Pavilion at the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach used their Technique #8 to get this result. Instead of desaturating this image, now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 High Structure (Smooth) preset was applied as is. On a duplicate layer, Lucis Pro 6 was applied using these settings: Mix with original image – 57/43 and Enhance 83. Duplicated the layer again and applied Lucis Pro 6 again with these settings: Mix with original image 47/53 and Enhance 123. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to Hue 187, Saturation 8, and Lightness -7 with the Colorize box checked. This is all that was done to get the really nice sketch effect. Recently I created a blog called Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) which shows a few more examples of the wonderful effects this plug-in can produce.

Anyway, if you are like me and have always loved the Lucis Arts effects, this is the time to get it. I am not sure they will be updating this plug-in since they are closing down the website. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do. Now off to take that break!…..Digital Lady syd

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SAME IMAGE-DIFFERENT LOOK

Image of a vintage blue corvette Decided to take this week off from serious blogging so just posting the same pix with some different filters applied. This image was taken a while back at a Turkey Run held in Daytona Beach at the International Speedway center field the day after Thanksgiving. I believe they have a new location on Beach Street. Since I am a big corvette fan, I had to take a lot of pix of them and this was one of them.

The above image results followed a little written Topaz Labs blog by Jodi L. Robbins called Auto Shine Tutorial with Topaz Glow 2. Very simple steps to follow and it creates a nice preset for the recently updated (and free if you already own) Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow 2 to use on with cars, boats and motorcycles. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above, Topaz Lens Effects’ Diffusion filter was opened and sliders set to Softness 0.32, Diffusion 0.63, and Edge Transition 0.35. Back n Photoshop a layer mask was added and the car was completely painted out so the Glow effect was totally removed there and just a little in the foreground area. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to Luminosity blend mode to further enhance the focal point. That was all that was done. I really like the beautiful vivid color with the soft look of the whole image.
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Image of old blue corvette using On1 EffectsThis image used On1 Effects 10 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link), and it looks really natural! Created these nice results by following a video, this time by Blake Rudis called ON1 Short Clip – The Preset Workflow Trick. I am finding that by downloading his preset and using it as a starting point, a really nice sharp image results. In the plug-in, the On1 Glow effect was masked off the car to keep it in sharp focus.That is all that was done to this image!

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Image of vintage corvette sketchThis image used a free Photoshop action called FX Paint and Sketch Action – using only the sketch action. The action layer was duplicated and the layer mask was applied and set to Multiply blend mode. The bottom background layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur with a Radius set to 112 was set just above it. That is all that was done – once again a very simple process! I was really surprised by the interesting tint effect that appeared in the image.

Definitely worth trying different filters and actions on an image to discover very different results. Some turn out to be really outstanding and it was never apparent it would look as it does. Will be taking a summer break next week and be back in a few. Have a great weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO GET A FANTASY FEEL IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of the Giraffes Sculptor from Philip Hulitar Scupltor GardensDecided to do something different with this bronze giraffe sculpture this week. It 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. This workflow actually began with finding an image in an old 2003 Digital Photo magazine that used Find Edge and Gaussian Blur filters, which were blended into a black background to get a nice sketchy look.

Since I have Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link) Simplify, it was used instead of the Find Edge filter. My final image does not look like the original image from 2003, but since Photoshop now has so many more nice features, I believe it is a better result.

So the first step was to apply Topaz Simplify 4 using an old preset I created called SJ S Ramelli (not sure where these settings were found:  Global Adjustments – Simplify: Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.28, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0.00, Details Boost 1.00, Details Size 0.20, Remove Small 0.00, and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust: Brightness 0.08, Contrast 1.00, Saturation 1.44, Saturation Boost 1.00, Dynamics 0.42, Structure 1.00, Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges: Edge type Mono Line – Normal, Edge Strength 2.40, Simplify Edge 0.42, Reduce Weak 16.39, Reduce Small 0, Fatten Edge 0.82; and Finishing Touches: Vignette – Vignette Strength -0.42, Vignette Size 0.10, Vignette Transition 0.60, and Vignette Curvature 0.66; and Transparency – Overall Transparency 0.12). This actually gave a pretty nice effect just by itself!

Next a Black Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added above the background layer. This way, the color can be changed quickly if a different background is wanted. It was left to black in this case.

On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) the giraffes were roughly selected using the Quick Selection Tool and the new Select and Mask panel (old Refine Edge panel) was opened. I just figured out that for me, once in this panel, sometimes instead of using the Onion Skin View, I prefer the On White View set to about 70% opacity – then the Brush which is the third icon down on left was used to paint in or out areas that needed to be cleaned up. This way a very good selection can be obtained – the Refine Edge brush was not even needed. The panel was closed selecting the Output To: New Layer with Layer Mask in dropdown. The Select and Mask panel did a very good job, but more clean up work was needed on the layer mask. The key is to get a really good layer mask, and it may take some effort to finish cleaning up the mask, to get a good result.

Since the faces were getting lost in the texture of the image, the original background layer was copied and placed on top with a black layer mask (CTRL+I in layer mask to make black). With a really low opacity brush of 12%, the faces were very softly painted back to show the eye and ear details. On another stamped layer the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used to light up the giraffes  – emphasis was placed on the faces and necks, and not so much on the legs. Note that a a soft yellow color (R249/G245/B98) was used and the original texture of the image was added back using the Red Channel set at a Height of 9. By trying different channels and heights, very different results can be achieved. See screenshot below of the settings for this layer.

Screenshot of the Lighting Effects Filter in PhotoshopSince the image still lacked a little pizzazz, on a New Layer a little vine regular brush was selected, but I was very tempted to use a Glitter brush. Just wanted a brush to give a bit of fantasy look to the image. To add color into the brushstrokes, a Pattern Overlay layer style (double click on a layer to open Layer Style Panel) using a pattern with orange and bluish tones was added to it. The layer was set to a lower layer opacity.

The image now has that fantasy look which I really like.
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Dandelions growing outside my doorThese dainty dandelions were taken at F/2.8 with my Nikon 60 mm Macro Lens with a Bower 0.5 x High Resolution Digital Lens with Macro added to the lens. I love the results I get with this set up. I wanted to try another fantasy image using similar workflow as above on the giraffes. This time, instead of using the Quick Selection Tool and the Selection and Mask panel, the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 was used to select these blooms. Below is a Screenshot of how this was achieved. It leaves in tack all the little odd ball edges that would be impossible to get, even with the new and improved PS panel. Using the Control Points really helps select the weed. When back in PS, the stems and centers of the weeds were lightly painted back a white layer mask to add back a little color in these areas.

Screenshot image of settings for Nik Silver Efex Pro Then some clean up was done on a New Layer to further paint black on any areas that are not totally darkened out. On a stamped layer, Lucis Pro 6.0.9 was used to further define the edges (Enhance slider set to 143 and the Assign Original Image Color was set to 0/100%. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.)

Next the Vine brush was used again with a different Pattern added in the Layer Styles Pattern section. Here is something to note: When Layer Styles are added to a layer, it is best to duplicate the layer and rasterize it to maintain the color in the layer style. That is what I had to do here, duplicate the layer, rasterize it (right click on layer and select rasterize – it will flatten just that one layer), then turn the eyeball off on the original layer in case it is needed to go back into to adjust. On another New Layer Kyle T Webster’s Inkbox Spatter Punk brush was used to give the glitter effect and set to layer opacity of 72%.

A couple Lighten and Darken Curves Adjustment Layers were used to dodge and burn the image in the flowers. (See my How To use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image Blog.) Also a New Layer was created, set to overlay, and with a light yellow color on a soft small round brush, the centers of the flowers were painted in to add a little emphasis to the focal points. (See my How To Add a Spot of Light blog.) The last step was to create another stamped layer and apply Topaz Detail to the image – this time to soften some of the puffy flower areas that had become a bit too crunchy looking. Used the Soft and Dreamy III preset and painted out the colored background so it was not affected by the preset inside the plug-in. Then applied it and added a white layer mask. This time painted out areas of the flowers that I wanted to remain detailed.

This was fun to try out the Lighting Effects Filter in PS which I do not use nearly enough. I am also getting more comfortable with the Select and Mask panel in the latest version of PS CC. The one that surprised me most was how the flowers in the second image could be selected pretty closely with the Silver Efex Pro – very easy to do! This is it for this week – hope you have had a chance to try out some of these Photoshop effects – they are really good!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE MOTION BLUR FOR ARTISTIC EFFECT

Image of a lizard hiding in some underbrushThis image was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. This little guy thought he had a pretty good hiding place, but I found him! I wanted to give him a very surreal surrounding and I think it happened using this week’s technique! Learned this from one of my favorite resource places, Creative Live, where a lovely lady named Kathleen Clemons presented a wonderful program called Creating Painterly Photographs. She was teaching how to both shoot and use Photoshop to give some very creative effects using mostly flower and leaf images. This got me thinking about how I could use some my favorite techniques and PS plug-ins to do get some interesting results also.

One of her PS suggestions was to try using the Motion Blur filter to get a different effect. That is exactly what was done in the image above. Very simple process to actually apply the filter. Below is the original image so you can see how the motion blur turns a rather busy image into a really nice painterly result.

  1. Duplicate your image.
  2. On this layer go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Now adjust to your liking. If you want a horizontal look as shown above, set the Angle to 0; if a vertical blur is needed, set Angle to 90 degrees.
  3. Add a layer mask to the blur layer and paint out where the effect should be removed. Use a low opacity brush if just a little bit of effect needs to be removed.

This is such a simple technique I am not sure why I had not thought of it myself! Now any of your other filters and textures can be applied with a very different look being created by the motion blur. Thank you Kathleen for bringing this to my attention! (Click on the original image below to see a larger view in Flickr of the Layer Panel – it can be clicked on to enlarge also.) At end of blog under Image 1 is a detailed paragraph on all the different layer steps shown here.

Screenshot of original lizard image and layers panel
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Painterly image of the Viera WetlandsThis image was taken at the Viera Wetlands also called  Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. A very similar image is posted here from a Tidbits Blog for the original version. Used the workflow above but this time Topaz Lens Effects’s Lens Motion filter was used to create the Vertical motion blur although PS could have just as easily been used. See Image 2 below for more details on how this image was finished.

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Image of a Gardenia flowerThis beautiful gardenia was also taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Topaz Lens Effects Motion Blur filter’s Zoom was used to get this lovely effect. See Image 3 for more details. Kathleen definitely had some great tips for both photography, including how to use a Lens Baby, and Photoshop – if you like shooting flowers, she is a master at it! Hope everyone has a great weekend – I think I will go try shooting some more flower shots using Kathleen’s techniques this week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Photo Information

Image 1 Info: First the PS Motion Blur settings used were Angle 0 degrees and Distance 375. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was used created. Then to bring out the Lizard more, the free JixiPix Spectrel Art’s Dark Lines preset with the Detail set to 74 was applied – then in PS the layer was set to Linear Dodge blend mode. Just the lizard was painted back in a black layer mask (just press ALT while clicking on the layer mask icon at bottom of the Layer Panel). Since the lizard was too bright, the Density slider in Properties Panel for the layer mask was set to 66%. This plug-in is a great way to add some detail back into an object that is not defined well. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-in blog.) Next on another stamped layer, the Liquify Filter’s Bloat Tool was used to increase the Lizard’s eye just slightly. Now an Exposure Adjustment Layer could be used to pop his eye so it could be seen even better. (See my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop.) Another stamped layer was created and Topaz Texture Effects was opened. Kathleen in her videos showed how to add a folder with your favorite textures in the Textures section of this plug-in. Just click the New box in the upper right corner of the panel in the opening screen. It turns into a Custom (preset) and the big (+ sign is clicked on. Only the Texture Panel was opened – by clicking on the little square next to the texture drop-down field, a new texture folder can be added. This is where loaded in a batch of many of the textures I created (but I could have added up my favorite 2 Lil’ Owls or French Kiss textures – see my Tidbits Blog for website links). Then all the sliders below can be applied to these textures very easily and areas can be masked out with a brush. Other panels can be added at the bottom or another Texture section can be added. This time I applied on of my first textures made in Corel Painter using Skip Allen’s Buttery Oils brushes. Then changes were made to the Opacity, Blend Mode, Saturation, Color and Color Strength in the plug-in. Lots of fun here! On a New Layer some clean up was done where edges looked bad. On another stamped layer, the now free Nik Viveza 2 was opened and 3 control points were added just to the Lizard to give his face and body yet more detail. Used a Curves Adjustment Layer to get rid of an overly bright section on a leaf in center of image. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.) On yet another stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Add Vignette Selective – Soft Olive Green preset was applied with these changes: Placement Adjustments – Focus Width 0.55 and Focus Height 0.45 – placed center on lizard (2989, 1404); Tonal Adjustments- Vignette Strength 0.20, Transition 0.40, Contrast 1.51, Brightness 53.02, and Opacity 25.25.  I really like the olive color in lots of  my images for a Vignette. Then two more Curves Adjustment Layers were created – following the Dodge and Burn technique above – to give the lizard’s head yet a little more pop and to soften down some of the vertical lines. Next Adobe Paper Texture Panel (this is free from Adobe) was opened, a Flypaper’s Raw Linen texture was applied using Linear Light blend mode at 25% layer opacity. This panel is a really cool way to see quickly what a texture will look like on your image. As you can see, I did not settle on a final color for this image until Topaz ReStyle was opened and saw the beautiful way some depth could be added to the image. Created yet another stamped layer and applied the Brandeis Blue preset with these changes: Color Style Hue Primary -0.70, Secondary -0.12, and Fourth -0.62; Lum Secondary -0.19 and Fourth 0.03; Basic Color Temperature 0.20 and Tint -0.34; and Detail Structure 0.34. A Selective Color Adjustment was opened to adjust color just a little more (Reds: Cyan +46%, Yellow -55%, and Black -28; and Yellows: Magenta -26 and Yellow -49). A clean up layer was added to soften some overly bright areas with a low opacity brush. Many of the layers had layer masks applied as you can see in the screenshot. It took a long time to do, but I like the final result now. This Lizard looks like he is really looking around!

Image 2:  Lens Effects allows placing the effect in the image with different types of blur (Panning,Rotation, Shake, Spiral and two Zooms). This image used a Rotation (same as the vertical or horizontal effect in PS) – the Motion Amount is the same thing as the Distance in PS Motion Filter. Alien Skins Snap Art‘s Impasto Detailed was used for the texture and the Dodge and Burn Curves Adjustments Layers were used to emphasize certain areas. Lisa Glanz Flying Geese bird png was used with a Pattern Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers) using a sepia watercolor pattern to give the birds some light texture. Topaz ReStyle was used again (Hanging Orangutan – Set to Restyle Color blend mode, Hue Primary 0.02, Third 0.50 and Fifth 0.02; and Sat -0.42; Basic Saturation -0.16; Tone Black Level -0.05, Midtones 0.20 and White Level 0.05 ). The sky was white so I added the blue sky in Nik Viveza 2 using the Color Swatch – this turned out so natural looking. This is a good tip for Viveza which is very good with handling color problems.

Image 3: Wanted to point out that for this image, all the clean up was done first including using Topaz Detail 3 to sharpen the center of the flower and adding one of my textures to soften the background and painting back the flower (set to Overlay blend mode at 53% layer opacity). Two Curves Adjustment Layers were used to Dodge and Burn the background. Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken the corners of the image and add focus to the center. Then Topaz Lens Effects Zoom motion filter was applied. Last the text was added (it is a really old font from 1996 called Abigail and no recent link could be found – there is now a newer different font called Abigail that is not this one). On a New Layer above a simple flourish was added under the text. A Layer Style was created to give the nice effect on the text – learned this was an old Photoshop TV video from 2007 (Bevel & Emboss – Style Inner Bevel, Technique Smooth, Depth 276, Up, size 54, Soften 10, Shading Angle 120 degrees and Altitude 39 degrees (no Global Light on), Highlight Mode Screen at 93% opacity and Shadow Mode Screen at 28% opacity; Inner Glow Blend Mode Lighter Color, Opacity 74%, Noise 0%, Color set to Gradient going from a blue color (#0e2053) to white, Elements Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 0%, Size 70 px, Quality Range 50%; and Color Overlay set to Blend Mode Normal, Color Swatch a beige (#93815e) at 100% opacity). Change the overlay color to get different colors in your text.

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USING PHOTOSHOP ARTISTIC FILTERS

Image of buildings along the ICW in West Palm Beach, FloridaThis image was taken from the Flagler Museum looking across the Intracoastal Waterway at buildings in West Palm Beach. I ran across a very simple technique while going through some old magazines and tried it out. Called Create an Artistic Watercolour Effect from Digital Photo in July 2005, this technique uses filters found in both Photoshop and Elements. I am not sure I would call it a true watercolor effect, but it did create a pretty nice base to start post-processing an image as shown in image below workflow.

So here are the simple steps:

  1.  Open your image and make sure it is in 8-bit mode when using Photoshop or some filters needed will not be available. (Set to Image -> Mode -> 8-bit Mode)
  2. Duplicate the Background Layer twice.
  3. On top layer go to Filter -> Stylize -> Find Edges.
  4. Still on this layer press CTRL+SHIFT+U to desaturate the image. (Or can go to Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate)
  5. Add a Levels Adjustment (Image ->Adjustments -> Levels or CTRL+L) so there is not much gray in the edges and it is looking like a sketch in black ink. The tabs may have to be moved to the center a lot to get a good effect.
  6. Change blend mode of layer to Multiply to darken lines and blend in effect.
  7. Highlight middle layer and go to Filter -> Artistic -> Dry Brush and try these settings: Brush Size 10, Brush Detail 2 and Texture 3. These can all be adjusted as every image will probably require different settings.
  8. Add another Levels Adjustment Layer just over the Dry Brush layer and adjust to get the painterly effect needed – this will lighten or darken the image.

Image with Dry Brush filter applied

That is the basic workflow. I was not sure I liked the effect of the Dry Brush, but it turned out to be fine after the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to shift the color palette to a warmer feel. Then Corel Master Elite Melissa Gallo’s texture called May Garden was applied and flipped (I was unable to find a recent link). A layer mask was added and the buildings were painted back. If you have Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Lab’s plug-in Texture Effects or the Adobe Paper Textures Pro free panel , both make it easy to try out different ones.

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Image of a Malaysian Tiger at the West Palm Beach ZooHere is a different image of my Malaysian Tiger buddie at the West Palm Beach Zoo. He looks pretty ferocious in this pose – as you know he was yawning in another image I posted. Since I was the only one around, I snapped away as he practiced. This was so much fun! Just used this regal pix to show you another way to use the workflow above to get a rather interesting look. Instead of using the filter on the tiger, this time it was applied to the background. First had to remove the tiger from the image by using the new Select and Mask panel in PS2015.5. This replaces the basic Refine Edge panel we are all used to and uses the Quick Select Tool inside the panel. To be honest it does a really good job, except PS crashed twice on me before I could get it to work, even with my new computer. I hope to do a tutorial on this soon as this new panel is really good. Next the workflow above was used on the original layer version of the image and this time the Artistic Watercolor filter was used (settings of Brush Detail 12, Shadow Intensity 3, and Texture 3). The cut-out tiger layer was placed above. Now the tiger did not have the filter applied, but the background did. Next Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened – since it is free, it feels just like Photoshop filters everyone can use them. The filters applied inside Color Efex Pro were: Monday Morning, Glamour Glow and Duplex with the orange color sampled. It gives his face a really soft feel and darkens the background with just a hint of the background which is what I wanted for this image. Used an Exposure Adjustment Layer to sharpen his eyes and nose and that was about it. Pretty simple!

Hope you try out the Photoshop’s filters – you don’t have to apply them to the whole image to get some really nice effects. And definitely open up those Nik plug-ins – these are some of the best Photoshop plug-ins around. See you next week!…..Digital Lady Syd


USING A NICE ACTION!

Image of a Yawning Malayan Tiger at the West Palm Beach ZooSince I am reorganizing my office this week and probably next week, I am just posting a short blog. I found a free action set from Gavin Phillips that is pretty nice and thought I would share it with you. This beautiful Malayan Tiger was actually yawning at the West Palm Beach Zoo – this was the coolest large cat I have ever seen! He spent a lot of time posing for my camera as I was the only one standing there! Very entertaining!

Used Gavin Phillips free Elegance Action (go to Free Downloads tab and select Free Actions in drop-down) – Gavin is an Action Master! This is a fairly long action that creates several adjustment layers to get the final effect. Mainly removed the Haze mists off the tiger by painting in its layer mask – otherwise not much adjustment in the action layers. Above the action group, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to turn the background into a more cyan color. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects’s Crisp Morning Run preset (one of my favorites) was added on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and just the Texture, Light Leaks and Split Tone sections were used – then a Vignette was added. Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to emphasize the face and tongue area. The whiskers were cleaned up using Kyle’s free Animator Pencil. That was it! Love the color and texture in this image.

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Painted image in the Sumi-e style using Corel PainterThis image was painted in Corel Painter to begin with using Karen Bonaker Digital Art Academy‘s great tutorial called Sumi-E Secrets so it is not exactly an original. It was fun to try this technique and it was so much fun to paint! When you buy her tutorials, she gives you everything you need including videos, Brushes and Papers that may be required to get the effects, including the deer in this case. I liked the original image at this point, but since I am always trying out different ways to get a little different look, the last iteration of the file in Painter was saved as a PSD file and brought into Photoshop. Then a few special effects like snow and a little glitter was added for the wintry effect. Now Gavin’s Natural Light action was applied as is – it contained 6 layers that can be adjusted. It gave the image a little more of a dreamy soft sunset look.

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Purple flowers taken at Harry P. Lei Gardens in Orlando, FloridaThese purple flowers were taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens at Orlando, Florida. This was a pretty simple workflow – once the image was brought into Photoshop, Gavin’s Elegance action was run again – I really like the results of this action. Several of the layers were adjusted in the action, but nothing major. Next Viveza 2 was used to add emphasis correctly on the flowers. I really like the effect created by this action.

There are four actions in the set – Elegance, Natural Light, Timeless and Vintage. I plan on trying the other two when I have time – Gavin has done a lot of great actions so check out his website if you like what you see. Hope everyone has a nice holiday weekend here in the US and hope everyone else is enjoying the weekend also! I will be painting!…..Digital Lady Syd

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WHAT’S NEW IN TOPAZ IMPRESSION 2?

Image of two Flamingoes at the West Palm Beach Zoo in Florida.
Totally psyched that Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression updated their plug-in to Version 2. Know you will see lots about this on the internet, but I am enjoying using it so much I wanted to share some of my initial responses to the program. I am surprised how much more they added to what I considered already a fabulous program! The image above used the a Watercolor II preset with some changes created in version 1 and still works great in the newer version. I call it SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset and can be downloaded in the Community Library. (For more info on post-processing on all images, check out the end of blog – this will give you a feel how many different filters and plug-ins can work together to get these effects.) If you own Topaz Impression version 1, this update is free!!! Best deal around – all of Topaz Labs’s plug-in updates are always free once you own it!

What’s New?

  • It is now much more similar to Topaz Texture Effects, which started out with this new interface that includes a Community where you can download presets when something different is needed. This has totally hooked me on Texture Effects, so the possibilities are endless as the Impression Community of presets are added.
  • According to Denise over at the Topaz Labs blog, there are now over 30 new loaded presets plus those that will be available in the Community library. And the layers can now be set to all the Blend Modes inside the plug-in.
  • New sliders and buttons have been added to the Stroke section – Number of strokes, Large Brush Volume to adjust large areas of color, and Rotation Variation to add randomness to the stroke effects; and in the Lighting section – new Highlight and Shadow sliders.
  • My favorite new feature is the Masking section where there are four different masks with different sliders to make your image totally unique. According to Topaz Labs:
    • The Spot Mask – Create a soft vignette effect, a subtle transition. It is somewhat like the Radial Filter in Lightroom or the Camera Raw filter.
    • The Color Mask – Uses color value differences to create a mask that is great for images clearly defined by color edges.
    • The Luminosity Mask – Uses luminosity values to determine edges for the mask and create it. It create detailed effects on light sources and glowing parts of image.
    • The Brush Mask – Can brush the effect in and out, and touch up edges around your subject. Use the Color Aware tool to create a clean mask along edges of your subject. This is a wonderful way to add detail to your Focal Point of your image.

It appears that only one Mask can be used for each Impression layer. I particularly like this Brush tab to remove the painterly effect and enhance the detail in your focal point. The large Mask window is very useful to see what is being affected in your image. Wonderful effects can be achieved in this section!

Image of Cityplace restaurant in West Palm BeachThis image of a restaurant located in the Cityplace shopping area of West Palm Beach used the Modern Urban Street Art III preset to get this very modern sketchy feel. (Changed the texture to Grass Patchy set to Texture Strength 0.89, Texture Size 1.00, and Texture Color of Red 255/Green 238/Blue 174).) In this case once the preset was applied, the layer was duplicated. The first layer was set to Color Dodge at 100% opacity and the second layer was set to Divide at 77% layer opacity. Layer masks were added and a few areas that did not look correct were lightly painted out with a soft black brush. This combination worked nicely on this image to give a real Florida look to the image. See Image 2 below for more post-processing info.

Image of a floral topiary of a birdAnother example of using this updated plug-in. This was a bird topiary of flowers at Cityplace in West Palm Beach – this was actually a fountain where suds had been introduced to the water. For some reason it felt right to add a slight painterly effect to give a wintry cool feeling. This image used one of Impression’s new presets, one which I really like, called Chalk Smudge. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool (white droplet) to remove areas looking too sharp (set to lower Strength). Opacity slider for all settings was set to 0.74 and to Normal blend mode. See Image 3 for more info.

As you can see, this update contains a lot of new things – some I have not fully explored. All-in-all, very nice update! For my version 1 review, check out my Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression blog. Once again the Topaz Labs group has done a wonderful job on their plug-in! I am sure I will be playing with this plug-in for days to come as the original was one of my favorite – now it is even better! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

POST PROCESSING INFO ON ABOVE IMAGES:

Image 1:  Duplicated the layer and entered the Topaz Impression 2 plug-in. Went to the Community tab and downloaded my SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset to apply this result. In a layer mask back in Photoshop, lightly painted back just the two foreground flamingos to bring back a little bit of detail to the birds. Next used a blender brush on a New Layer to  clean up a little bit of the messiness caused by the painterly preset from Impression 2. Used another New Layer to add a little line delineation on the trees. Created a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and took the layer into Topaz Black & White Effects. (Used my SJ Old Fountain preset.  Settings included: Conversion Basic Exposure: Contrast 0.02, Brightness 0, Boost Blacks 0.06, Boost Whites 0.00; Adaptive Exposure: 0.30, Regions 8, Protect Highlights -0.05, Protect Shadows 0.00, Detail 2.00, Detail Boost 1.00, and check Process Details Independently; Finishing Touches: Silver and Paper Tone: Tonal Strength 0.20, Balance 0, Silver Hue 32.00, Silver Tone Strength 0.50, Paper Hue 32.00, and Paper Tone Strength 0.15; Quad Tone: Color 1 Region 0.00 set to R0/G0/B0, Color 2 Region 142.5 set to R75/G78/B96, Color 3 Region 228.0 set to R222/G220/B172; and Color Region 4 255.0 set to R255/G255/B255; Border – Type Solid Black Size 0.46; Edge Exposure Left and Right Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.17, and Edge Transition 0.20; and Top and Bottom Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.40, and Edge Transition 0.20; Vignette: Strength -0.47, Size 0.85, Transition 0.61, and Curvature 0.54; and Transparency to 1.00; and in Local Adjustment used the Burn tool to darken the background, Color on the Bird, and Dodge on the trees to enhance where the lines of the trees were.) On a new stamped layer opened Topaz Texture Effects (Used SJ Crisp Morning Run Modified preset – Texture: changed to bright turquoise texture (halfway down on right column) with Opacity set to 0.29; Vignette – Strength 0.60 and Size 0.53 with Color centered on between bird and trees; in Mask painted back the bird and a little bit of light in trees and background behind bird – used Strength of 39 and Hardness of 20 using black.) In a layer mask and the Gradient Tool selected, a black to white gradient was created from top to bottom to darken the upper edges a little. Image 1 is the final result.

Image 2:  This image was difficult to clean up – first the Adaptive Wide Angle filter was used in PS to straighten the walls somewhat. Then the open areas that resulted were cleaned up with the the clone brush. Next the Topaz Impression 2’s Modern Urban Street Art III preset was applied and the plug-in was exited. The layer was duplicated and said before, the first layer was set to Color Dodge blend mode at 100% layer opacity and the second layer was set to Divide blend mode at 77% layer mode. A little clean up was done on another layer and finally on a stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to bring in the focal area a little – located where the foreground grouping of chairs on the sidewalk. On another stamped layer a Camera Raw filter Radial filter was used to lighten the left side of the image and darkening the right side a little. A little painting was done on a New Layer and the last step was to use a Curves Adjustment Layer to average out the tone.

Image 3: So what was done in this image to get a really surreal effect? First Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the flowers only (used black mask and painted back only flowers). One of my Corel Painter textures called SJ Beach Scene was used to add a brownish foreground and a light bluish sky. Another one of my textures called SJ Forest and Plains was placed on top to add the wave or outer space feel in the upper left corner especially – it was set to Luminosity blend mode at 79% layer opacity. The background was copied and placed on top – the top part of image was selected and placed in a layer mask so the people and cars in the area were removed. Then several layers were about used to clone out and clean up image areas. On another New Layer, a basic small snow brush was used to add the wintry feel to the sky. A stamped layer was created and Topaz Lens Effects was opened where the Graduated Neutral Filter was selected and set to the Graduated bottom half 2 stops preset. On another stamped layer, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to – Flypapers Fly Book & Skull Preset was applied (this contained the Glamour Glow, Reflector Efex, Film Efex: Vintage, and Cross Processing filters). Another stamped layer was created and finally Topaz Impression 2 was opened where the Chalk Smudge Preset was used. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool to remove areas looking too sharp (set Eraser brush to lower Strength). Opacity slider was set to 0.74 to Normal blend mode. The birds floral eye was worked on next. The Liquify Tool was used to increase the size of the eye and an Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to make it stand out a little. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog.) A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was added to blend image a little better. (See my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) On a stamped layer Lucis Pro was used to further blend the sky in a little nicer. (Settings used are Enhance Red Channel 175/Green Channel 195/Blue Channel 149 and Assign Original  Image Color set to (0% Processed /100% Original.) (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.) On a New Layer Grut’s FX Cloud Gumbo 01a brush was used to fill in the water to look like built up snow. (These brushes are terrific and very handy for image clean up!) A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to a light beige – it was set to Color Blend Mode at 57%. It made the statue look a little better and the red flowers less saturated – painted out the sky so it was not affected. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to reduce the overall tone just a little. This was a huge workflow, but you can see how the Impression plug-in works very nicely with many of the filters from both Topaz and other vendors.