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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?


TOPAZ BLACK & WHITE EFFECTS AND ALIEN SKIN SNAP ART TOGETHER!

Image of a three wheeled riding bike at Universal Studios OrlandoThis week I wanted to show some of the results be combining a couple of very popular third party Photoshop plug-ins to get a very painterly or artistic effect with just a little experimenting. This above image was taken at Universal Studios-Orlando – they have some wonderful looking bikes around the park. I particularly like the effect of Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Black & White Effects and Alien Skin’s Snap Art together, although this first image did not use both. The above image started with one of the free Seim’s Color Fantasies 2 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) using Classic Holga preset in Lightroom. In Photoshop Topaz Detail 3 was used to really sharpen up the lines of the bike by adding a black layer mask and just painting the bike back in in white. (Used a very subtle sharpening preset I use all the time on my images with these settings are just: Detail Overall Medium Details 0.38 and Large Details 0.16 and Tone Contrast 0.30 and Shadows -0.01.) On a duplicated layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to even out the tone and color with several control points. Next on another duplicated layer Topaz Black and White Effects was applied. (Here are my settings: Basic Exposure Contrast -0.33, Brightness -0.01, Boost Blacks and Boost Whites 0.25; Adaptive Exposure 0.86, Regions 18, Protect Highlights 0.02, Protect Shadows 0.10, Detail 2.50, and Detail Boost 1.11, and check PDI box; Color Sensitivity Red 0.15, Yellow -0.14, Green 0.47, Cyan 0, Blue 0.31, and Magenta 0; Color Filter Hue 325.1 and Strength 0.27; Creative Effects Simplify Size 0.12 and Feature Boost 1; Silver and Paper Tone Tonal Strength 0.40, Balance 0.30, Silver Hue 0, SilverTone Strength 0.50, Paper Hue 4.00, and Paper Tone Strength 0.25; Vignette – need to adjust center, Strength 1.00, Size 0.71, Transition 0.44, and Curvature 0.55; and Transparency Overall 1.00.) This is a great plug-in that most people use for black and white image, but I like the Transparency turned on at 100% which adds back roughly 50% of the color in the image. By using the individual Detail, Darkening and Color brushes on the image,  a very painterly effect can be obtained. Try experimenting with the brushes in the Topaz products – can get some great effect with them! Back on another duplicated layer of the Nik Viveza 2 layer, Topaz Simplify’s Pencil Hard II preset was applied, moved to the top of the stack, and set to Overlay blend mode at 26% opacity. This gives it a more illustrative feel which I was aiming to get. On a New Layer on top, the vignette and some of the colors were evened out out by sampling in the image using my Chalk Brush (Adobe Chalk Brush 60 with a Shape Dynamics set to 19% in Brush Panel). The last step involved adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to add back contrast to the image. Sometimes all the different manipulations tend to make the image lose its contrast.
Image of a Lost Continent Eatery at Universal Studios OrlandoThis image of a small water fountain at an eatery in The Lost Continent at Universal Studios in Orlando just caught my eye – loved the tiles. Very similar settings in Topaz Black & White Effects were used. On a New Layer above the plug-in layer, the chalk brush was used to even out the vignette, instead of using the plug-ins brushes. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 was applied using the Detailed Watercolor preset. On a New Layer, the Clone Stamp Brush was set to my Chalk Brush as used above, and at 60% brush opacity, it was cloned to add a few brush strokes into the areas so it looks like a really painted effect. On a New Layer on top, some small paint spatters were added back lightly into the image to give it just a little bit of a realistic feel and set to 70% layer opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was place on top.
Image of the rooftops at Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios OrlandoOne final image is of the Rooftops at Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios Orlando. Had so much fun taking images there! This image used Topaz Detail 3 with my detail preset from above, then I added a cloud since the sky was a rather flat blue using my Cloud 1 from my free set of Cloud Brushes. Next Snap Art 4 was opened and this time the Impasto Vignette was applied. On a stamped layer Topaz Black & White Effects was applied using a preset I called Harry Potter Sky (Here are the settings if you want them: Conversion Basic Exposure: Contrast -0.04, Brightness 0.09. Boost Blacks 0.29, and Boost Whites -0.24; Adaptive Exposure 26, Regions 26, Protect Highlights and Protect Shadows 0, Detail 1.07, and Detail Boost 0.70; Color Filter Hue 63.87 and Strength 1.00; Quad Tone Color 1 Region 15.08 – R1 G1 B12; Color 2 Region 143.9 – color R63 G78 B85; Color 3 Region R216 G211 B129; and Color 4 Region R255 G254 B237; Vignette – Vignette Strength -0.11, Vignette Size 0.68, Vignette Transition 0.93, and Vignette Curvature 0.75; and Transparency Overall 0.85.) Really gives the more spooky look that I wanted for this image. Next a Curves Adjustment Layer for additional contrast. The last step used the Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter using the same Radial Filter effect to add the largest tower. Lots of fun to do!

I hope you can tell that with just a little experimenting you can get a very painterly feel on an image. And try a different brush, instead of just a round soft brush, to use when cloning – this can really add a painterly feel to the image and the clone effect is not nearly so evident. It is so much fun to try out different presets and sliders and different plug-in combinations to get something very different. Hope you try mixing up your plug-ins and see if you can get some very artistic looks too!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
A Nice Illustrative Look
Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!!
Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can!


WHAT ABOUT THIS FOCAL POINT ISSUE?

Painted image of a cafe in Edinburgh, ScotlandThis week I am going to discuss an issue that has always been a problem for me, and that is – how to find the focal point of my image, and then how to emphasize it once you know where it is. Darren Rowse, in a short blog called Using Focal Points in Photography, sums it up when he says “The reason a focal point is important is that when you look at an image your eye will generally need a ‘resting place’ or something of interest to really hold it. Without it you’ll find people will simply glance at your shots and then move on to the next one.” In other words, if you want people to look at your image seriously and not just consider it a snapshot, you better have a good, and if possible, interesting, focal point.

The image above was a good example of a focal point issue I had. This is an image of an outdoor cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland, with just a lot going on in it – loved everything about the scene and was not sure where to place the emphasis. (Click here to see my initial posting of photo on Flickr – notice that your eye goes everywhere when viewed – no obvious focal point in the image.) In the above painted rendition, I decided to draw the eye to the white jacket the woman had which was not so obvious in the first posting image. In this case by whitening just a little bit of clothing, it was enough to create a nice focal point. Also, the Camera Raw Filter’s Radial Filter helped provide the desired results with the subtle vignettes it provided. (See Image 1 Info at end of blog for settings used, including the Radial Filter.)

How to find your Focal Point

Deciding where the focal point of your image should be is the first thing to do before any post-processing is done to an image. You have to know where you want people to look to get a good result! Melissa Gallo is the major champion of focal points – she is both a traditional and digital artist and I believe she is the first person to really help me understand what a focal point is. She teaches a video class called Painting with Photoshop Workshop where she explains this concept very thoroughly. (I highly recommend your getting Melissa’s class if you are at all interested in creating digital art – and she provides lots of  her beautiful textures for this class.) I learned these two tips are very useful for finding the focal point.  First decide what was so important that it made you take the picture? – that should be your focal point.  I tend to take a lot of images where I have not put a lot of thought into why I took it. I now understand that I am just taking memory snapshots, not something with major intention behind them. That is not necessarily a bad thing, and I do get some shots for creating nice photos or art, but overall the results are not good. Melissa’s second bit of advice was to “Squint at your images. If the focal point doesn’t stand out while squinting then something is wrong.” That is the area in the image to work on – you want to drive the viewer’s eye to the focal point. In the above image it was the people that attracted me – although beautiful buildings are in the background and there is the interesting signage, the people are the main story for me. And by painting more of a white color in the ladies shirt, it made the focal point a little more apparent. By squinting, the white does stand out to your eye.

A few good references on this subject are listed here. A most helpful one covers this topic in a lot more detail than my blog and is from Digital Camera World called Using Focal Points in Photography: How to Get Perfect Composition Every Time – check it out for some really good info. Another quick resource blog is The Importance of a Focal Point in Photography by by Wayne Turner. Also this short blog shows how Leonardo da Vinci developed his focal points using color, contrast and structure – see n-sane.net’s blog called Focal Point.
Image of guy serving Butter Beer at Harry Potter Land, Universal Studios-Orlando

Some easy ways to emphasize the Focal Point

There are lots of ways to draw focus, but I really like the Radial Filter in the Camera Raw Filter. Frequently I use this as my last step to add a nice subtle vignette to emphasize the focal point in my image. The Camera Raw filter’s Radial Filter is one of the biggest improvements that came with Photoshop CC.  This can also be done in CS6 by going back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop, or by using Russell Brown’s script (see my Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script blog) that let’s you open Camera Raw on an individual layer in earlier versions – and CS6 does have the Radial Filter available. The Radial Filter appears to be able to replace a lot of the other ways used to de-emphasize or emphasize a photo, and does it really quickly. All the Basic sliders are available and several radial filters can be placed all over your image so it is fairly easy to draw the eye to the focus point exactly the way you want.

The above image is of a man serving the best tasting Butterbeer from a street cart at Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios-Orlando.  His interesting face was my main focal point. Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3 was used to add just a little sharpening, although the Sharpen Tool on a New Layer or Camera Raw Filter’s Sharpening Panel could have been used – Detail is just so quick and does a great job with this so I tend to use it most for sharpening (my settings are in the Image 2 info at end of blog). Next two Radial Filters from the Camera Raw Filter – one for just his upper body where I want to draw attention and want the vest detail to show up, and another one for the rest of the image. Since the red on the truck was so overpowering, by using the outside radial filter the color could be slightly desaturated so the man shows up better. Also the detail in his shirt could be emphasized some with the inside radial filter. (See all settings for Image 2 at end of blog.) A Gaussian Blur Filter was added to a stamped version on top and the Radius set to 4.8. Then a black layer mask was added and areas around his face were blurred slightly, like the woman’s face and parts of the background. This is also an easy way to draw the eye to the focal point.

A couple quick tips on using the Radial Filter are listed here. Be sure to make your layer a Smart Object before opening up the Camera Raw Filter so that you can go back and adjust the Radial Filter settings if needed (Right click on the layer and select Convert to Smart Object.) A Smart Object and a Smart Filter are the same thing so either one will work. To duplicate a radial filter in Lightroom or Camera Raw, just hold the ALT+CTRL buttons and then drag the first dot so a second dot appears – next be sure to change the radial button setting to Outside or Inside if needed. By using this technique, you can cover the whole image to localize the effect you want. Don’t forget that you can place several radial filters in an image. The filter can be duplicated to apply the same effect twice to the same area. Sometimes you may just want to add or subtract color in a certain area and then go back and set another one to do something else, like sharpen or add clarity. This is a really versatile tool.
Image taken of a store display at Universal Studios Orlando
This image was taken in a store at Universal Studios Orlando. I loved all the beautiful shapes and colors in this image, but it a really good example of trying to pick the correct focal point. I tried to make the three pots on the lower left the focal point – still not sure I succeeded, but I believe they do stand out more than the rest of the image. I tried to follow the color, contrast and structure principle to emphasize the focal point. To me there is a question of exactly how far do you go to emphasize a focal point when there is so much to see in the image? When I “squint,” my eye does rest on the orange colored pot, so I believe I succeeded in emphasizing the correct area for my focal point. (See Image 3 for info post-processing.)

I hope I was able to help anyone else who has problems figuring out where the focal point is in an image and then what to do to emphasized it. It is not an easy topic. The above related blog links should help if you need more info on this. I will continue working hard on emphasizing my focal points in my photography and Photoshop. Have a good week!……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Storytelling with Your Images

Post Processing Info

Image 1 : In Lightroom some basic changes and Dave DuChemin’s Classic India Split Tone preset was applied. Some major clean with removing cars and people that you can see in the original linked above on a New Layer. Three stamped layers were used, one after the application of another filter, for each plug-in.  The image was actually painted in using three of my favorite plug-ins: Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 with my abstract setting (Detail Overall – Small Details, Medium Details and Large Details sliders all at -1.00; Color Temperature -0.27, Tint 0.34, Saturation -0.65, and Saturation Boost 0.21.) which gave the image a soft pinkish smooth look that was kind of interesting by itself; Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 using Oil Paint Thick Paint preset with three Detail Masks to add detail back to the people and plants a little bit, Adding some Saturation and Contrast to the Colors tab, and using the Canvas default texture; and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle’s Cypress and Tan preset with no changes and applied at 66% layer opacity. The last step involved creating two Radial Filters in the Camera Raw Filter – Outside used Exposure -0.40, Contrast -41, Shadows +42, Clarity -44, and Saturation +6; and Inside, which was placed very close around the people sitting at the table, had Exposure +1.00, Contrast +71, Highlights +20, Shadows +74, Clarity +19, and Saturation +48. The Feather for both settings was set at 89%. Back in Photoshop the Camera Raw layer was set to 73% layer opacity.

Image 2: In Lightroom added Seim Power Workflow (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link to free sampler with this preset) Super HDR X preset that was applied at 79% using The Fader add-on. Opened in Photoshop and Topaz Detail 3 using a very subtle preset I use all the time on my images (my settings are just: Detail Overall Medium Details 0.38 and Large Details 0.16 and Tone Contrast 0.30 and Shadows -0.01) were applied on a duplicate layer. The image was turned into a Smart Object and the Camera Filter was opened. Two Radial Filters were used – one to emphasize the server, and one for the rest of the image. Outside used Exposure -0.60, Contrast +45, Highlights -12, Shadows +21, Clarity -73, Saturation -31, and Sharpness -72; and Inside, which was placed very close around the mans upper body and really brought out the detail in the vest, had Exposure +2.10, Contrast +47, Highlights +51, Shadows +93, Clarity 0, and Saturation +5. The Feather for both settings was set at 89%. Back in Photoshop the Camera Raw layer was set to 73% layer opacity. The last step involved created a stamped layer on top and adding a Gaussian Blur with a Radius set to 4.8 – a black mask was applied and just the lady and detail around the man’s face was painted back blurred using a 30% opacity white brush on the mask. I felt like this area was just too sharp and took away from the man’s face or the focal point.

Image 3: In Lightroom Seim’s Color Fantasies 2 HDR Classic preset was applied (another free sampler to download). In Photoshop the background layer was duplicated and set to Screen blend mode to lighten image as it was very dark. OnOne (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Perfect Effects 8 plug-in was applied next. Stacked these layers in the plug-in: Split Tone, Detail Adjustment Brush painting in the three bottles on center left, Glow Adjustment Brush painting in just the three bottles on center left, Sunshine Glow, Big Softy Vignette set to Subtle with Size set to 7, Center placed on the three bottle in center left. Trying to make the bottles the focal point. Back in Photoshop another Camera Raw smart object was opened and two radial filters as before were created – emphasized the three pots in lower left. The Sharpen Tool was further used to help draw the eye. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to add more color into just the three pots. On a stamped layer on top a Gaussian Blur set to 3.8 was applied. In a Layer Mask, just the pots were painted back leaving the rest of the image slightly soft. This is another way to draw the eye to the focal point. That was about all I could do. Vignetting, Color,Sharpening, and some selective Blurring.


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