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HOW TO ADD BRUSH STROKES TO PERK UP A BACKGROUND

Image of flowers in a pot in The BahamasFirst of all, I am taking a little break from blogging as I have some wonderful overseas guests arriving for a month, but I will try to pop in with a few shorter blogs. This week’s topic is not that ground-breaking, but sometimes there is a need to perk up a basic photo. You do not have to add a really fancy texture, sometimes just a well placed brush stroke or two will give your image that added interest and personalization it needs. Painterly looking brush strokes have been added behind the main subjects to get a more unique look than just adding a basic texture or two. So here are a couple examples on how to do this. All you need is to either create some interesting marks and save them as a Photoshop brush (on a small sized document in 8-bit mode, make or combine brush strokes using black for the brush color, then go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and it will appear at the bottom of your Brush Preset Panel), or download brushes from the Internet (to Load, go to the pop-out at the top of the Brush Preset Panel, select Load Brushes and find where you downloaded them, and click Open – they will appear at the bottom of your Brush Preset Panel) – some of my favorite downloaded brushes are linked in the text. One of my goals with this blog has been to help readers find resources to create interesting images.

This pot of flowers was shot on Green Turtle Cay in The Bahamas. It is a very simple object, but by adding some interesting brush strokes in Photoshop, it becomes a much more interesting image. My workflow for doing this is as follows.

1. My first step was to paint the flowers in Painter – no reason this could not have been done on a New Layer in Photoshop with a regular brush or Mixer brush – just sort of colored in the flowers and stems, and on another layer above the pot. For you Painter people, the flowers and stems were painted following the video Painter Cloning tools with professional photographer and digital painter Melissa Gallo and using the Coarse Sargent Jitter brush as a cloner brush to just paint in the flowers and stems. The original image was used as the source and an inverted version as a second source to paint in the darker leaves. The pot was painted using Melissa’s settings for the Luscious Oil Paint brush. The file was saved as a PSD file and opened in Photoshop.

2. This next step is important if you used Painter to paint the subject(s). In Photoshop first duplicate the flower layer. Using the Color Range command. Just remember when selecting in this dialog that the white area is the selection – if you select the background because it is easier to select, just check the Invert box before saying okay. While still showing a selection on the image, add a layer mask to the flower layer -the mask will pick up the selection showing just the flowers. There are other ways to create a selection and they work fine, just be sure to add the selection to a layer mask. You could click just CTRL+J to add them to a separate layer which is fine also. I like layer masks so I can check to make sure everything is included in the selection before the background is eliminated. It is also easier to clean up bad edges in a layer mask. Then right click on the mask and select Apply Layer Mask – now flowers are isolated.

For Photoshop folks, your subjects should have been painted on a New Layer(s) above the image, so you do not have to worry about selecting your objects.

3. You do need to add a New Layer over your original image and fill it with white to isolate what you selected. (Select white as your foreground color and ALT+BACKSPACE to fill.)

4. For both Painter and Photoshop subject, New Layers are added in which different strokes in different colors and opacities can be created. Three New Layers were added underneath each with a different stroke in different colors: The brown bottom color was a pastel brush I had, the blue paint was a Creative Toons watercolor brush (these were free from Photoshop Creative Magazine No. 113), and the yellow circle behind the flowers was created in my Texture Brush Video on You Tube and set to 46% layer opacity – yellow is a very strong color so it has to be tamed a bit. The Pot layer was selected and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it to get just the right color. Each of these layers can be moved around using the Move Tool (can highlight layer in Layers Panel and press the CTRL key to turn cursor into the Move Tool). I am finding large watercolor brush strokes are very nice for this technique.

The following steps are all just cosmetic – you can do anything you want at this point. For the above image, underneath all the brush layers one of my free textures created a while back called Digital Lady Syd’s Smudge Texture was added as a layer and set to 23% layer opacity, which is why there are some very light soft colors in the border. On the next layer flowers that were selected – a layer mask was used to clean up some of the halos in places around the branches from the rather rough selection. Next a little Sketch Brush was selected and the pot was lightly sketched around and the dirt in the pot was given a little more definition. On a layer above it, a round soft brush was used to smooth edges of the pot. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Vintage Frame 2-frame 15 was selected – the creases in the texture were painted out as it was distracting and it was set to Linear Burn at 97% layer opacity. In the layer style, the Blend If This Layer was white tab was split (ALT+drag to split) and set to 158/218, and the Underlying Layer black tab was split and set to 73/126 and white tab split and set to 239/255. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little more contrast. It really gave the image much more interest by varying the size, color and opacity of the layers. The image now has a lot more interest and the background strokes look very natural.
Image of Native American DollsNever been really excited by the doll images I took from the Native American Festival this year, but still had fun post-processing them. This was one of those images you were just not sure what you would end up with! In Lightroom added Seim’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) PW4’s Super Hero X – WhiBal preset. In Photoshop did a Perspective Warp first thing since the doll shot was not taken straight on – I was able to segment it into two pieces and straighten it up fairly nicely. Next on a New Layer did a Clone Stamp clean up for the ugly image edges I got from the Perspective Warp. Created a Stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and ran a Photoshop Shake Reduction filter.

Instead of painting this image, I wanted to just separate the dolls from their background which was really distracting. The white background was selected again using Color Range and adding a layer mask containing the selection. The Mask was applied and a lot of areas were added to it to get this image clean. (Color Range had selected not just the background but some of their clothes and parts of their faces, so in the mask these areas were painted back to white so they would show up on the layer.) The following step is basically the same thing as adding the various New Layers and adding strokes, if you create the texture yourself. My Pastel Watercolor texture was placed behind them and stretched out by Free Transforming the texture layer CTRL+T to make it fit right. For a free jpg download of this texture click here. Making a similar texture is very similar to what was done in Step 4 above when adding brush strokes layers above. In this case a New Document was created – I used 12 X 9 inches at 240 ppi. Next free brushes from bittbox called BB Watercolor II Brushes need to be downloaded – these are really pretty watercolor brushes I have used for years. On a New Layer Sampled Brush 19 was painted in a pink tone on the right and with 48% layer opacity; next on another New Layer Sampled Brush 14 was applied in orange with a layer opacity of 100%; next New Layer used Sampled Brush 1 on top of last brush stroke and set to 74% layer opacity; another New Layer with Sampled Brush stroke 3 in a different pinkish tone was added at 66% layer opacity; another layer using Sampled Brush 8 in yellow at 77% layer opacity; and finally a bright pink stroke on another New Layer set to 71% layer opacity – all at Normal blend mode. You can now move the whole document into the one your are working on, or individual layers with the unique strokes. The strokes can be moved around on each layer to adjust them just right or use a Free Transform to stretch out the stroke or warp it. Totally functional! And fun to do. I have used this texture a lot for my backgrounds and these brushes are really nice. By saving your texture as a jpg, it can be used like other textures that people make.

The rest of the post-processing is the following. For some reason I have been using the Nik Analog Efex Pro 2 filter (see my Digital Lady Syd’s Favorite Preset for Nik’s Analog Efex Pro with a few adjustments in the Detail slider including several control points on the individual dolls and the Luminosity curve). On a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was used to sharpen a few of the facial features. In Nik’s Viveza control points were added to drawing the eye toward the doll in the white coat in the middle. The Camera Raw Filter was further used to direct colors correctly in the image and a Radial Filter was used on the center doll. Then localized adjustment layers were added to pin-point areas I wanted corrected in the image. By filling adjustment layer’s mask with black (CTRL+I in mask) and painting back with a 30% opacity brush, areas that needed a color shift could be added. (A Color Balance, Hue/Saturation, and two Curves Adjustment Layers were added.) A New Layer was added on top and with a soft round brush set to 12% layer opacity, a couple of the dolls faces were painted over as they were too bright – the layer was set to 47% opacity. That was it – I really loved the doll with the bright orange-red dress on the far left and the feathers on the bird on the right!

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to create some interesting background easily – sometimes the easiest things are often overlooked. I think this is a pretty fun way to make new textures and to perk up some ugly backgrounds. Hope you have some fun experimenting! See you a few!……Digital Lady Syd


MORE COMBINING PLUG-INS FOR GREAT EFFECTS!

Image of a beach on Greater Guana Cay in The BahamasJust having some fun and showing a couple files I worked with this week. This image was taken on the beach in front of Nippers Beach Bar and Grill on the Greater Guana Cay in The Bahamas. They claim to be located on the beach right off the third largest coral reef in the world. Totally fun place to go and I thought this was a rather fetching way to end the summer season before moving on to fall!

So what did I do to get this look? It did not start out this way at all – it was just a nice beach picture which I liked just because the water was so pretty and the people were doing something interesting. I did not follow my basic plug-in workflow like I did in the image below. In Lightroom Seim’s (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) PW4 Magic-Ugly Shade Fixer and Sampler Tone Chocolate presets were applied. Then in Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was used – I am finding it works really well with any of my hand-held shots – subtle but nice difference! On a New Layer the Patch Tool was used to remove a few people in the right side of the image. The image looked pretty nice and what I thought I would originally post, but then I added Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle using my favorite preset, Cream and Plum. (Settings changed: Hue Primary -0.31; Sat no changes; and Lum Primary 0.08, Secondary 0.42, and Fourth -0.47; Texture Strength 0.44; Color Tone Black Level -0.81, Midtones 0.05, and White Level 0.20; and Detail Structure 0.34 and Sharpness 0.80.) This brought back a lot of the detail in the sand and water, but also gave the whole image a bit of a pink feel –  therefore in an added black layer mask (when you click the layer mask icon, hold down the CTRL key also to get a black mask), the people were painted in to remove the effect back in Photoshop. This layer was set to 89% opacity to reduce the overall effect a little.

Then a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added using a cream color (#eee3b9) set to Color Blend Mode at 34% layer opacity. The layer mask was turned to black (CTRL+I inside mask thumbnail) and the people were painted back. This color gave them more of a natural tan look. The photographer’s pants were bright red and drawing the eye away from the girls, so another Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added to turn the pants to a brown color (#221007). Did the same thing – filled the layer mask to black and just painted back the pants. It was also set to Color Blend Mode at 100% layer opacity. This is a cool way to change colors to an object in the photo – and by dragging in the Color Picker, you can see the change in live preview so you get just the right tone. I would recommend changing the layer to Color Blend Mode first before choosing a color so you can see the effect different colors are having. On a Stamped Layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik’s Viveza 2 was opened. Ten control points were added, mainly to the people and water at top edge to get nice effects. Did you know that if a control point overlaps into a different object and the results look bad, you can set another controlpoint  on that part – don’t have to make any slider changes – and it goes back to the original color(s)? By adjusting the size, you can remove any bad effects. I just love this plug-in!

On another Stamped layer, Nik’s Analog Efex Pro 2 was opened. I just love making my own presets so that is what I did in this plug-in. Only 4 sections were used: Basic Adjustments, Light Leaks, Lens Vignette, and Levels % Curves. (I named this preset Blown Out Beach and here are the settings if you are interested: Basic Adjustments – Detail Extraction 45%, Brightness -4%, Contrast 13%, and Saturation 0%; Light Leaks – Strength 23%, Soft type with the first top left corner leak used and set on the mid lower right between the girls; Lens Vignette – Amount 52%, slider under the ct in Rectangle, and Size 53%; and Levels & Curves – the grid is 16 blocks x 16 blocks so I will try to get the right location for the dots – RGB – (3,1) (9,10) (16,16), Luminosity (2,0) (11,8) (16,14.5), Red (0,0) (7,8 ) (16,16), Green (0,0) (3.5, 3) (16,16), and Blue (0,0) (5.5, 5.5) (13.5, 12.5) (16,16), and Opacity set to 70%.)

The last step involved adding Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3 (also one of my very favorite plug-ins) using another preset I created that caused this rather soft blur effect (settings for my preset I call Soft Leaves are: Detail – Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium Detail -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.42; and Tone Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.58, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) The Tone Exposure sliders really added the nice color to the water. The last step was a “clean up” layer where the skin was smoothed by sampling color and painting with a soft round brush.

Image of Sandhill Cranes on our local golf courseI loved these wonderful Sandhill Cranes that were wandering around our golf course this week. I have never seen this type of bird here, so I had to rush and get their picture! What gorgeous birds! Every bit as majestic as the beautiful Herons that are all over the place! Since fall is arriving, I felt a fall feel should be added to the image. Following my basic workflow from my my Digital Lady Syd’s Plug-in Workflow blog, these effects were added: in Lightroom Seim’s Super Hero X Natural and Tint Bronzed Sepia presets were applied; in Photoshop the Shake Reduction was applied using Auto settings; Topaz Detail 3 was applied using my favorite preset (Detail Overall Medium Details 0.38 and Large Details 0.16 and Tone Contrast 0.30 and Shadows -0.01 ); next Nik’s Analog Efex Pro 2 created in first image was used (for this image these settings are different: set to Basic Adjustments with Detail Extraction to 70%, Brightness -23%, Contrast -9% and Saturation 28%; Light Leak Strength 36% and set in middle; and Lens Vignette – Amount 68%, Full right to Rectangle, Size 56% and set just above the birds); a New Layer was added for some burning on edges of the birds (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog); another New Layer was added and by using a soft low opacity brush, haloing was removed around the birds since this was taken on an Android phone; another New Layer was added where the vignette border was filled in using the Kahara brush created in my How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting Blog; a Curves Adjustment Layer was added for a little contrast to the image; and finished up with Nik’s Viveza 2 setting control points on the two left birds to sharpen and highlight a little, and on the background trees to give the soft fall color look – one of my favorite ways to end post-processing an image.

I really enjoy working with the plug-ins because they can give your image a unique effect if used properly. Nik’s Analog Efex Pro 2 and Viveza 2 work very well together. I do still love a good photograph but I am constantly trying to find something that is totally different, and the plug-ins often give me lots of options for this. It does take time to understand what each does, but once you find an effect you like, saving a preset speeds up the process for the  next time you use the the plug-in. Short but sweet blog for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd


DIGITAL LADY SYD’S PLUG-IN WORKFLOW

Image from The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show at Universal StudiosThis week I just did what I call some “fun” Photoshop and just played. Know I have touched on these things before, but liked the results so thought I would share again and go through my plug-in workflow. This time I have added small images showing the results of each plug-in layer. Also wanted to say thanks to the Photography Club of Flagler County, the club to which I am a proud member, for letting me “bend their ears” for an hour on my passion of painting using Photoshop. So many of its members are totally excellent photographers so check them out!

As I said before, for some reason I really loved Universal Studios Orlando and got some different shots when visiting. This image was from The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show. I liked the flames and graininess that were due to the high ISO (1250) needed to take this shot. The original RAW file was extremely dark (see below). Probably not the best image for drawing your eye to the focus point, which to me was the girl, but I still liked the image so here it is. In the original image as it came from Lightroom, Seim’s Super Gentle X preset was applied as a starting point. Have not talked much about Gavin Seim’s Power Workflow 4.1 Lightroom presets (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) – I really like them and find I almost always use them over playing with the sliders in Lightroom now. They are different from others I have bought – uses a lot of curves and HSL changes to get some very natural effects. You can download a free sampler, which is how I got started with them, and if interested, watch for the good sales he offers every now and then. He also has a really interesting You Tube video called Gavin Seim’s History of Photography. The Noise Luminance was set to 26, Detail 59, and Contrast 30 to handle some of the noise issue. Below is the RAW file and the file as it looked when brought into Lightroom. If that does not sell you on using Lightroom or Camera Raw, I am not sure what will!

Image of Raw file of Sindbad showImage of original file with Lightroom changes of Sindbad Show

Next Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was used – I did not want to sharpen the noise, but definitely wanted a more natural sharp look to the image so Clarity was used instead of Topaz Detail. The Micro Color Boost II preset was used with a few adjustments (Dynamics White Level -0.55; Hue/Sat/Lum settings: Hue Orange -0.06 and Magenta -0.61; Sat Orange 0.42, Yellow 0.03, Green 0.47, Blue 0.77, and Overall 0.33; and Lum Red 0.17, Orange -0.14, Green 0.38, Aqua 0.33, Blue 0.19, Purple 0.16, and Magenta 0.36). Back in Photoshop a black layer mask was added so the effect was removed, and then it was painted back in where I wanted the nice saturated colors showing up, mainly the foreground and flames. The image below has just Clarity applied. Very subtle difference from the Lightroom preset image – mainly shows up in the colors in the foreground.

Image of Sindbad Show after using Topaz ClarityOn a duplicated layer (CTRL+J) Topaz Black & White Effects was opened and the Toned Collection Sepia II preset was chosen. This time a lot of the settings were changed, or else it would look like sepia, right? Here are the settings used (Selected the 4th over teardrop which set the settings for Section 4 Finishing Touches Silver and Paper Tone. Left Basic Exposure with preset settings. Adaptive Exposure was set to 0.24 and other setting left as set. Creative Effects Diffusion set to Softness 0.71, Diffusion 0.67, and Diffusion Transition 0.56. Finishing Touches used the Quad Tone settings provided by the preset. Vignette was set and centered on the girl. Vignette Strength set to -0.28, Vignette Size 0.61, Vignette Transition 0.83, and Vignette Curvature 0.82. Transparency set to 0.40 to just bring a little color back into the image). What is really neat about Black & White Effects is that the Local Adjustments section has so much variety that you can sort of sculpt the image. Therefore all the brushes were used to enhance most of the special effects above. First the Detail brush was used to paint over the girls face and body to emphasize it a little more. Used these settings for all brushes: brush opacity of 0.14, Hardness 0.00 and Edge Aware of 0.50. This is just enough opacity to see a change. Painted over the area again where more detail was needed. Second, painted with the Color brush over the flames once, her face several times, and her body once. Also the foreground color was lightly painted over. Third, painted with a Smooth brush over the flames – I usually do not see much of a change here with this brush but I wanted the overall feel soft, so it was used. Fourth, painted with the Burn brush on the areas that shows up too bright around the edges. This included part of the flames on the right edge. Fifth, painted with Dodge brush just around the large pot in the foreground and her pant legs to brighten these areas up just a little. In Photoshop a white layer mask was added and some of the detail was painted back in the foreground and flames – that is because the Diffusion settings were pretty strong in this plug-in. I wanted to use it for a more ethereal feel, but there are places that needed more detail. The Local Adjustment brushes did add some of this detail back, but there is a little more painting control back in Photoshop. Once again the difference was very subtle, but there is some definite darkening going on by adding this plug-in. Also, this plug-in’s layer was only set to 59% layer opacity which also lessens the effect. Below is how the image was starting to appear with Black & White Effects applied.

Image of Sindbad Show with Black & White Effects applied

Two Curves Adjustment Layers were added to darken the edges down and brighten the girl just a little. Below you can see the Adjustment Layer mask’s were turned black (CTRL+I inside the mask to turn it black) and a white brush was used to paint back the localized sections to reveal. Since I am never one to leave things alone, Nik’s Viveza 2 was used to add the red tones to the flames (actually used the little eyedropper under the Hue slider and sampled the red in the flame to add more) and pop her face a little (mainly used just a little Contrast of 28% and Structure of 44% to make the face show up just a little more). You can see the flame settings in the screenshot below. (Click on image to see settings larger in Flickr.)

Screen Capture Image of Nik Viveza 2 settingsSince the effect was still a little strong, a black layer mask was added and just the areas I wanted more were painted back in white, of course using my Chalk Brush 60 with 19% Angle Jitter. How cool to use so many of my favorite plug-ins in one image. The final image is shown at top of blog and below is an image of the Layers Panel from the finished file. (Click on the Layer Panel to see close-up in Flickr.)
Image of Layers Panel for Sindbad ShowWell I hope this gave you some insight into how to do use plug-ins effectively in Photoshop. You do not have to overdo the effect – can just add a black layer mask in Photoshop and paint back with white where you want the effect to show up. Or try changing the Layer Opacity or Blend Mode to get a different look. And don’t forget to try some different types of brushes other than the Round brush when painting in that layer mask. Lots of choices here! Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How Topaz Black & White Effects Can Create Some Surprising Results!
More Clarity on Topaz Clarity
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Clarity
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!


HOW TO USE THE PUPPET WARP TOOL CREATIVELY

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 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) 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 June Seashore 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 EASILY CREATE A PHOTOSHOP BRUSH FOR PAINTING

Image of some of the characters making up the Caro-Seuss-el at Universal Studios OrlandoI think most people are pretty much in a rut and do not even think about using anything other than a basic round brush in Photoshop. But Wow! There is so much more sitting in that Brush Panel that is not really that difficult to use and the results can do some amazing things to an image. This week I am going to give you some very basic settings for making a nice brush variation and how to use it as both a regular brush and a Mixer Brush without having to learn everything “under-the-sun” about them. So here we go.

I have decided I must see things differently since I seem drawn to shooting these sort of close-ups of funny things I see at theme parks. They do such a good job with color and expression that it is hard not to enjoy them. So once again a Universal Studios Orlando image close up of a couple of the characters to ride on from the Caro-Seuss-el in Seuss Landing.

Getting Started

I decided I wanted a painterly feel to this bright colored image. Most people will over-saturate an image in Camera Raw or Lightroom as the painting can make the image lose its contrast. In Photoshop first do any cropping, straightening and clean up of distractions and convert your image to 8-bit mode to help speed up the painting process (Image -> Mode -> 8-bit).

This step does not have to be done – you can just go on to Creating the Brush step and then start painting on a New Layer without an underpainting effect. For this image, on a duplicate layer (CTRL+J),  Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 plug-in was opened to create an underpainting before beginning to add my personal painting brush strokes. This is the same process as traditional painters do when they paint large blocks of color on their canvas before they begin painting the details. Especially for these bright contrasty images, it is a great way to start. Simplify does a great job of doing just that, simplifying your picture so you can take time working on your details. A preset I created back in version 3 was used (here are the settings used: Simplify section: Size 0.60, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0.80, Details Boost 1.28, Details Size 0.60, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.47; and Adjust section: Brightness 0.02, Contrast 0.82, Saturation, Saturation Boost 2.31, Dynamics 0, Structure and Structure Boost 1.00; no other settings used. ) This creates a rather bright flat image, but perfect for painting on the image. There are other ways to create an underpainting – the copy of the actual image could actually be blurred so only the basic shapes and colors are distinguishable and the detail removed. Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 is another plug-in that creates a great underpainting effect. (See the first image in my More Plug-in and Painting Effects blog for an example using Snap Art 4.)

Creating the Brush

Next a New Layer was added on top and a watercolor Regular brush was created from the set I am always talking about – Creative Toons Watercolor Brushes – these were free from Photoshop Creative Magazine No. 113. (See next section for some other choices.) The brush used was Sample No. 15 but in the Brush Tip Shape in the Brush Panel, I set the size to 90, Roundness 100%, and the Spacing to 55%. Then added these brush sections by clicking on the words (not just check boxes or the settings don’t show up): Shape Dynamics was set to an Angle Jitter of 19% – no other settings on; Scattering with Scatter slider turned on and set to 30% and Count to 1 – no other settings on; Texture was turned on and the Gauze Pattern in Photoshop’s Artists Surfaces set was selected – Scale 100%, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 100% and Depth Jitter 40%; and of course Smoothing. (To locate pattern, click on side of pattern in Texture brush section, then click on the cog in upper right corner and select Artist Surfaces in list and Append – newly loaded patterns appear at bottom of already loaded patterns.) All the Control settings are turned off in all the sections. Be sure to save down as a Brush Preset so you do not lose your settings by clicking on the third icon over at the bottom of either the Brush Panel or the Brush Preset Panel. These were all settings I figured out since I really liked the shape of the original brush from Creative Toons, a brush that originally had a Size of 2500 px and Spacing of 25%. When painting, the 90-pixel size is as large as you want to use, especially when used as a Mixer brush. I believe any nicely shaped watercolor brush would work with these settings. Please try different settings and different types of brushes, not just watercolor, as you can get some very different but equally beautiful effects – I just happen to think this brush is very versatile and blends so beautifully. When using as a Regular brush, I usually set the brush opacity in the Options Bar to 30% and leave the Flow at 100%. If painting on a layer mask, may want the brush opacity set to 100%. For info on Flow, check out my blog called What Does the Flow Slider in the Options Bar Do?

Where to Find Some Nice Starter Watercolor Brushes

If you are unable to create this brush since the set is not free without the magazine, try downloading this large set of brushes from Env1ro watercolor brush and select Brush 3-697 pixels using exactly the same settings – when tested it creates the same effect as the brush used above since the shapes are very similar. It is also used in image below. Some other similar results were obtained using  SwimchickWatercolours – brush no 480 which gave a little softer result. Kahara has a nice 8-brush set and the third one made a beautiful brush with these settings and a different pattern, a concrete  pattern from Photoshop’s Texture Fill set (click on side of pattern in Texture brush section, then click on the cog in upper right corner and select Texture Fill in list – new patterns appear at bottom of loaded patterns). Changing up the patterns can give a brush new life. For a great list of free brush downloads, check out 45 Watercolor Brushes For Photoshop by Petshopbox Studio.

Turning it into a Mixer Brush

The real trick is to get your new Regular brush to work as a good Mixer Brush, and that is determined by what is up in the Options Bar – these settings are all sticky so when using your Mixer brushes, check them out if the brush is not working correctly.

So here are the options to make this really easy:

  • To blend the colors (creating a blender Mixer brush), in the Options Bar turn off the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon by clicking on it and always leave “Clean the brush after every stroke” clicked on, and selecting the Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the drop-down – have Sample All Layers checked. Now you have a pretty nice blending Mixer brush. If some color shows up, you left the “Load” icon turned on.
  • But what if you need to add some color to an area (creating a painting Mixer brush)? Turn On the Load the brush after each stroke icon (or no color will be painted) and flip the drop down to Dry, Light Load. Dab a few times to add your color and go back and turn off the Load icon and set to the Very Wet Heavy Mix to blend some more.

Really not that hard at all if you know where to look. And that is what I did on this image. Photoshop does try to make it easy. I blended areas where Simplify left a rough edges between color and added color to areas that were blown out as highlights or needed a more solid color added. Be sure to use dabs as well as longer strokes to get a nice painterly feel. If your brush gets much bigger than 90-pixels, the computer may slow down considerably so reduce the brush size – I usually paint at 20 pixels or less anyway. If still having problems, resize your image smaller – it will not matter if you are creating a painting – it can always be increased again after the image is finished. This was just too much fun to do! I love happy characters to work on!

NOTE: For painting with the Mixer brush – to sample colors that are under a brush stroke where you are painting, just press ALT+ click to add the(ose) colors to the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon which shows what is being painted by the brush. If you want to use a pure color from the Color Picker, you will need to use the Eyedropper Tool or double-click on the foreground swatch. I find this very time-consuming, so I do two things. First I have set up a keyboard shortcut for the letter “n” to open up the Color Picker. (Go to Edit -> Keyboard Shortcuts) Since I do not use the letter “n” for the 3D Camera Rotate Tool, I changed it in the Shortcuts For: Tools and scrolled to Foreground Color Picker, clicked Add Shortcut button, and typed in the letter “n” – it said it was in use and do I want to do this and I said yes. There you have it – very handy! Also my Wacom Stylus pen is set up so that the top of the long button opens up the Color Picker by selecting my “n” shortcut key, and the bottom is for Enter to accept the new color. This speeds up the painting process immensely! As a Regular brush – to sample an image color, just ALT+click on the color in image and the Eyedropper Tool pops up and selects it. The “n” shortcut key will bring up the Color Picker no matter what brush tool you are using.

Finishing up Your Painted Photo

I decided that the image needed a few lines showing, especially on the faces to draw the eye a little better. Again, this does not have to be done with a plug-in. One of the best ways to do this is to add a New Layer and select a Pencil Ink pen and add them in yourself – adjust the layer opacity so it is not over-whelming. For my painting the original bottom layer was duplicated and Simplify was opened again. This time the Black Line Only preset was chosen and just the Reduce Weak slider was set to 1.00 – all other settings were left. In Photoshop the layer was moved up to the top and set to Overlay blend mode. A black layer mask was added and just the eye areas and a few other details were painted back with the lines showing using a low opacity white brush. Many painted images have some lines in them and there are various actions around that add lines to your images, but by using just the Edges section in the Simplify plug-in is by far the fastest way to do this. The Reduce Weak slider controls a lot of the lines in the image but also check out the Edge Strength and Simplify Edge sliders for getting the illustrated look you want. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode so the white disappeared and a black layer mask was applied – painted in lightly with white brush where just the eyes and a few other areas had lines added for a little additional definition. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast. The Camera Raw Radial Filter was added to draw focus to the eyes , especially the center figure (Inside Radial Filter settings: Exposure 0, Contrast +5, Highlights +44, Shadows -4, Clarity +41, Sat 0, and Sharpness +33). And finally OnOne’s (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Effects plug-in was used to add the pretty border – they have always had the best borders. This one was called Antique Rounder Border. This turned out to be quite a lot of effort, but when you are painting an image, it usually does take some extra effort – even with the underpainting already added.

Here is another example using the same settings on a new brush.

Image of Dwarf Firebush flowers with the ICW in the background This image is of some Dwarf Firebush tubular flowers growing in my front yard and the Halifax River (aka Intracoastal Waterway) at Ormond Beach, Florida, is the background. Not sure how I came up with this combination, but it turned out kind of nice and definitely different. The reason it fits in this blog is that the flowers were painted using the same settings as the Mixer Brush in the above image, but with a similar brush I created. Wanted to show you that applying these settings to any brush is totally easy and the results can be very nice. But first I had to select just the flowers from the background using Photoshop’s Color Range Command. I needed to put them on something, so I added a Pattern Adjustment Layer and found this image of the river that looked kind of nice behind it since the roof on the pier is so similar to the flower colors. The pattern was left at a Scale of 100%. I wanted to add a little grunge to the image so Kim Klassen’s Make Grunge Set Allard texture was added and set to Luminosity blend mode at 54% – any grunge texture would be fine but I like really like Kim’s textures as most of them are very subtle. Next Env1ro watercolor brush 697-3 was loaded with the same settings that were used on the Creative Toons brush. Unfortunately due to an electrical storm that knocked out electricity and totally busted my Photoshop preferences, workspace, brushes, and image, I lost the layers for this image – what a mess! But since I did have my History in Preferences set to Metadata and Edit Log Items Detailed, and all my steps were listed in the File -> File Info and the History tab. Pretty nice extra-back up to have, especially in this case! Another Simplify Black Line Preset was added on a duplicate background layer and placed on top, set to Overlay blend mode, and a black layer mask added to paint back the flower details. Topaz ReStyle was applied to a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top with my favorite Cream and Plum preset (here are my settings: ReStyle blend mode set to Color. In Basic blend mode set to Luminosity; Temperature was set to -0.75, Tint 0.20, and Saturation 0.13; Tone Black Level -0.37 and White Level 0.22; and Detail Structure -0.20 and Sharpness 0.64). This gave it a bit more of a soft look as opposed to a grungy effect. The last step was to use the new brush as a Mixer and blend the edges by painting around it. I am not sure this image has that much of a painterly look, but I still liked the results.

Hopefully this blog makes sense to you and you now have enough information to actually start painting on layers on top of your image. Also use the same brush to paint in a layer mask, to use with the Clone Stamp, and create borders. It really is not that hard. Experiment with the settings in the Options bar – try some of the other choices in the drop-down menu for the Mixer brush. Try different patterns in your brushes. It is all pretty easy – just keep saving your brushes as presets so you do not lose them. I would suggest going in to the Preset Manager (icon at bottom of the Brush Panel) and saving your new brushes down since I did lose all of the ones I had created when my electricity went off. And if you have Topaz Simplify, try out the line and flat painting presets. Hope you have a fun week experimenting – I know I will!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Simplify 4


HOW TOPAZ BLACK & WHITE EFFECTS CAN CREATE SOME SURPRISING RESULTS!

Image of top of Caro-Seuss-el at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios OrlandoFor some reason this week I kept playing around with Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Black & White Effects – have not really done this in a while and am enjoying some of the really different effects that can be achieved with this little gem of a plug-in. I am not a great black and white image fan, although I have been trying to learn the technique. There are so many things to learn just to get a great black and white image. But I use Black & White Effects more for getting that unique and sometimes artsy look.

So what did I do to get this totally different look from this plug-in since this image was taken in the middle of the day in bright sunlight? This is another image from Universal Studios Orlando of the top of the Caro-Seuss-el in Seuss Landing. In Lightroom used Seim Power 4 Workflow (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Gentle Afternoon preset before opening image in Photoshop. Topaz Detail 3 was applied on the whole image to sharpen it up a bit. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add more emphasis to the little blue elephant and the really cool shadow from the pterodactyl-like bird. Then the image was taken into Topaz Black & White effects and one of my presets I created a long time ago was used. For the preset settings, see Image 1 info below. The Sharpen Tool was used on the elephant on a New Layer and some paint touch up was done to smooth everything together. A cloud layer was used (used my free Cloud Brushes No. 11) to add a little sky interest – the sky was cloudless. To get a really cool darker look, Kim Klassen’s free Simpleset Simple 2 black texture set to Screen blend mode at 56% was added and a dark blue Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT + click between layers) to the texture to make it dark blue instead of the black background color.  Image of a sign at Universal City Walk in Orlando, FloridaI have to be honest and say I love to photograph and post-process images of signs, especially unusual and brightly colored ones. Universal Studios Orlando has so many from which to choose. This one is from Universal City Walk that is outside the two large theme parks and has some great restaurants and entertainment offered nightly. In Lightroom used Seim’s Power 4 Workflow Ultra Color preset. In Photoshop a Color Balance and Curves Adjustment Layers were added to sharpen up the image a little. On a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Content Aware Fill was used to get rid of some extraneous objects in the sky. Next Topaz  ReStyle was used – The Bright and Shiny preset was selected and few minor changes were done to the Basic Color sliders and Detail and Structure sliders. Some clouds were lightly added to background using Creative Toons Watercolor Brush 41 (these were free from Photoshop Creative Magazine No. 113) and then a layer mask was added to remove the cloud paint from the signs. A Gaussian Blur set to Radius 3.8 was used on a duplicate layer above to soften the background. The layer mask was copied (ALT+drag to new layer) from the layer below. On another stamped layer, Topaz Black and White Effects was used – started with my House Fronts preset and then did minor adjustments. (For settings, see Image 2 info below.) What made this effect look so good was the use of the Local Adjustments brushes – the Detail Brush was used to sharpen the letter in the signs, Color Brush was used to paint back in the original photo color of the arrows to brighten parts of them, Dodge the Brush was used to soften some of the background details, and the Darken Brush separated the edges of the signs that ran into the busy roller coaster background. The brush settings were all the same and were Size 54, Opacity 0.56, Harness 0, and Edge Aware 0.50. This really perked up the image and gives it less of a “canned plug-in” look. Topaz may do brushes the best of any plug-in as they are very different and easy to apply! The last step added a Camera Raw filter Radial filter to just the inside to brighten it up only a bit. I was so surprised how this image turned out – I keep forgetting how good Black & White Effects really is!
Image of a blue cactus plant in a basketThis beautiful cactus was growing on the porch of a friend of mine and I had to take it’s picture – it looks like a variety of Mother of Pearl Plant, (aka Ghost Plant, Graptopetalum Paraguayense Plant). The color above is actually pretty close to the original – very lovely plant. Anyway, just another quick example of a different look in Black & White Effects. What really worked on this image was adjusting the Quad Tones to new colors – used a dark reddish brown, turquoise, citrus green and light yellow for the different regions. The Adaptive Exposure Protect Shadows brought back the detail in the pot so it did not look too flat. (For settings, see Image 3 info below.) Last step in Photoshop was adding an overlay for a slight vignette effect from a texture by 2 Lil’ Owls Artisan Collection 2/1 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) –  then added a Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to the layer (ALT+Click between layers) to change the color to a dark green color. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog for info on how to do this.)

I would recommend you try using the different brushes in Black & White Effects and see if you can get some creative results. It has a lot of good adjustments – can use low or high opacity brushes and flow, can set the hardness to hard or soft, and has a pretty good Edge Aware capability when needed. This was an area I had not even bothered using much, but I can see some real benefit in learning how to use these tools in the plug-in for that unique look. And the Quad Tone section is really a great addition to give some very interesting tones to the image. I am really trying to pass on some of the little tricks I am learning when I use this plug-in and maybe the settings listed at the end will give a good starting place to create a very different look. Hope all are having a great weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Topaz Black & White Effects and Alien Skin Snap Art Together!
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Black & White Effects 2.1
Sunny Preset for Topaz Black and White Effects
Topaz Black and White Effects Quad Tones Are Great!

Image 1 Topaz B&W Effects Settings: The Vignette setting is one of the areas that made this special effect so dark. The teardrops on the upper right area control Paper Tonal Settings. Here are the settings for all sections: Conversion Basic Exposure 0.02, Brightness 0.02, Boost Blacks 0.71 and Boost Whites 0; Adaptive Exposure 0.62, Regions 34, Protect Highlight and Shadows 0.01, Detail 2.47, Detail Boost 1.04, and PDI checked; Finishing Touches Silver and Paper Tone Tonal Strength 0.19, Balance 0, Silver Hue 42.58, Silver Tone Strength 0.46, Paper Hue 46.48, and Paper Tone Strength 0.48; Quad Tone Color 1 Region 1 (color black), Color 2 Region 67.18 (color R3/G36/B22), Color 3 Region 146.6 (color R214/G223/B238) and Color 4 Region 255.0 (color white); Vignette Strength -0.25, Size 0.01, Transition 0.17, and Curvature 0.50); and Transparency 0.92.

Image 2 Topaz B&W Effects Settings: This is my SJ House Fronts preset adjusted from last week’s image to fit this image. The settings are:  Basic Exposure – Contrast -0.50, Brightness -0.01, Boost Blacks 0.20, and Boost Whites 0.59; Adaptive Exposure 0.86, Regions 18, Protect Highlights 0.02, Protect Shadows 0.10, Detail 1.49, and Detail Boost 1.13 – PDI checked; Color Sensitivity: Red 0.73, Yellow -0.14, Green 0.61, Cyan 0, Blue -0.33, and Magenta 0.02; Color Filter Hue 325.1 and Strength 0.68; Simplify Size 0.08 and Feature Boost 1; and Vignettes – center on image, Strength 1, Size 0.78, Transition 0.59, and Curvature 0.78. In Local Adjustments painted in detail back into the signs using brush size 54, Opacity 0.56, Hardness o and Edge Aware 0.50; painted in color back into parts of arrows and signs to give a more painterly effect using same brush, used Dodge to remove man in lower left edge; and used Burn to sharpen edges of signs from roller coaster edges.

Image 3 Topaz B&W Effects Settings:  I created a SJ Cactus preset with these settings that also contain the new Quad Tone colors:  Conversion – Basic Exposure Contrast 0.08, Brightness -0.11, Boost Blacks -0.27, and Boost Whites 0.21; Adaptive Exposure 0.18, Regions 26, Protect Highlights -0.04, Protect Shadows 0.15, Detail 2.02, and Detail Boost 0.79; Color Sensitivity Red 0, Yellow 0.51, Green -0.33, Cyan 0.50, Blue 0.68, and Magenta 0; and Color Filter Hue 106.0 and Strength 0.67; Creative Effects Softness 0.37, Diffusion 0.74, and Diffusion Transition 0.50; Finishing Touches Silver and Paper Tone – used first tear drop called Selenium above; Quad Tone Color 1 Region (R49/G5/B5) at 0.00, Color 2 Region (R51/G76/B83) at 92.08, Color 3 Region (R106/G127/75) at 128.9, and Color 4 Region (R240/G240/B178) at 255.0; and Transparency Overall set to 1.00. In Local Adjustments used the Detail brush to paint over the foreground flower Brush Size 110, Opacity 0.60, Hardness 0.01, and Edge Aware 0.50; next used the Color brush to paint in more of the blue color in the foreground flower and its stem – set Opacity to 0.20; the Overall Strength for the brushes was set to 0.57.


MORE PLUG-IN AND PAINTING EFFECTS

Image of a candy shop at Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios OrlandoThis week I thought I would just do a quick additional blog to go along with the one last week on Topaz Black & White Effects and Alien Skin Snap Art Together! Alien Skin Snap Art 4. Loved this little candy shop at Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios-Orlando. I am not sure I have seen so much candy in one place in a long time! What I want to emphasize is that you can combine different painting techniques, including free hand painting, to achieve a look that is unique. This image has used the same workflow as last week, but also had additional painting throughout to remove distractions and to add additional tones and colors.

In Lightroom started with Seim’s (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) free Color Fantasies 2 Sampler HDR Classic preset. In Photoshop, followed the basic workflow from my Fun Photoshop Blog linked above, then applied Snap Art’s default oil preset. On a duplicate layer above, Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Black & White Effects plug-in was opened and the Harry Potter Sky preset was applied without the vignette settings (for settings see the last image info in my Fun Photoshop Blog linked above). Topaz Simplify 4 was opened on another layer and the Color Sketch 3 preset was applied – then a black layer mask and just a few areas painted back where I needed a little line effect. Try using different Simplify sketches and adjust the Edge Section sliders to get a nice sketch look. Then in Photoshop the opacity and blend mode can also be changed to get more choices. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer was created and the Camera Raw filter was opened and two radial filters were used to direct focus to the cones in the center of the image. A New Layer was placed on top and a Photoshop Oil Mixer brush was used to smooth some of the areas around the candy and remove some of the distractions in the ceiling. (These were the Mixer Brush settings used in the Options Bar to get this effect: Both Load and Clean were turned on, Wet 0%, Load 50%, No Mix, Flow 19%, and check Sample All Layers.) Sample colors in image by clicking on the ALT button to get a matching area shown under the dropper, or bring up the Color Picker and sample just one color. Another New Layer used my Chalk Brush as a clone stamp brush. Both these layers were necessary to give the image a true painterly effect, and not just a canned feel. Finally another New Layer was used with the Sharpen Tool to localize sharpening. Pretty much what was done in my last blog.

Image of some pretty pink rosesCreated this effect by combining Alien Skin Snap Art 4’s Impasto Vignette preset and Topaz Simplify 4’s Oil Paint preset, in that order. I had never tried this combination, but I liked the results! Simplify’s layer was set to Screen at 38% opacity and the main focal point flowers were painted out in layer masks on both plug-in layers to direct focus better. 2 Lil Owls Stained 12 texture (see sidebar for my Tidbits Blog for website link) (these are some of her prettiest textures I think) was added on top and just the flowers I wanted showing were painted by in a layer mask using my Chalk brush. Added back some contrast with a Curves Layer, and the free font is Ornatique Regular. On a New Layer set to Overlay, the edges in the flower were painted in with a black brush set to 12% layer opacity to just give a trace where edges needed to be sharpened in the flower. (See The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) That was it – Snap Art, Simplify, and painting edges on an Overlay Layer.

Guess what I am learning in my painting adventure this year is that you do not have to go only one way with your painting effects – and if you do not get the results you want using one technique, try another. And use your brushes – they do not have to be in the same media even – to give that unique look. Creating or finding a couple brushes that you can use to get your own style is great to to have – that is what I am trying to do with my simple Chalk brush. The plug-ins can be a great aid to filling up a canvas quickly, but that additional layer on top with your own paint strokes can give the image your personal stamp. I am learning to do this and feel I am slowing getting a good workflow and painting technique in place. It does take a lot of practice to get the feel down but I believe it will be worth it in the end!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
What I Am Learning About Digital Painting
6 Tips for Painting in Photoshop
Painting Effects – Which Ones to Use?


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