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Photoshop Filter

HOW TO USE MOTION BLUR FOR ARTISTIC EFFECT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Information

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

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

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

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USING PHOTOSHOP ARTISTIC FILTERS

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

So here are the simple steps:

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

Image with Dry Brush filter applied

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

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

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


USING A NICE ACTION!

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

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

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

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

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

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WHAT’S NEW IN TOPAZ IMPRESSION 2?

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

What’s New?

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

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

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

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

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

POST PROCESSING INFO ON ABOVE IMAGES:

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

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

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


HOW TO USE A RED CHANNEL TO CREATE A NICE BLENDED IMAGE EFFECT

Image of two peach rosesThis week I am presenting just a rather simple technique about how to make your objects blend gently into the image at the end of your workflow. I am not sure I have ever heard of anyone using a Luminosity Channel this way, but it works quite well. The roses above were taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida recently.

So here is a quick rundown of what was done to this image before the Channel Effect technique. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression plug-in was used to get the painterly effect. Normally I would hand paint this, but when playing around in the plug-in, the Watercolor I preset was used with adjustments to the color settings. Then some sketch lines were added using a free brush, Kyle’s Drawing Box-Animator Pencil New – it is the best sketch brush I have found for drawing in small lines to differentiate areas in a painting. Used white and light tan to emphasize some of the indistinguishable edges. On a stamped image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above Topaz Texture Effects Crisp Morning preset was applied (one of my favorite presets in this plug-in) with the Texture Opacity set way back to 0.17. On another stamped layer the newly free Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the three focal points in the image: the main focal point which is the center of the large flower, the second is the bud and the third is a small area in the large lower left leaf. Next on another stamped layer a slight vignette effect was added using Topaz Lens Effects’s Add Selective Add Vignette filter using the Soft Pearl preset. Below is an example of the Original image as brought into Photoshop and the image before the Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was applied.

Tych Panel of Original and Before Curves Applied images

Now for the Luminosity Channel effect. I learned this trick from a wonderful presentation by Karen Alsop on Creative Live called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World. There were lots of little tips throughout her presentation, but this one really came across as a real interesting way to get a nice finished look to an image.

  1. Go to the Channels Panel and highlight only the Red Channel. Click on the first icon at the bottom of the panel called Load Channel as a Selection. Now dancing ants are showing the Highlights as selected for only the Red Channel.
  2. Switch to the Layers Panel and click on the half black and half white circle (forth icon over at the bottom of the panel) and select the Curves Adjustment Layer or just open the Adjustments Panel and select the Curves Adjustment Layer (the graph looking icon). Voila, the selection goes into the Layer Mask of the Curves Adjustment Layer.
  3. Now just adjust the curve to make the image appear a little more softer in the highlights – I find that I am slightly pulling down in the middle of the graph to get a more pleasing effect to most images.

This definitely does give a much softer feel to the overall image as you should be able to see in the Tych Panel image on right above and the final top image. I did this as the last step in the workflow. You are not limited to just the Red Channel, try all the different channels – one might be better for different photos. What you are seeing with the mask is that the white areas in the mask will be affected by the curve, but the black areas will not be affected. This means your bright highlights will be slightly darkened and the darker colors and shadows will not be affected by the graph curve. On the above, just the whitest of the whites were affected the most, then less as the colors became darker in value. And remember this is a value effect – meaning lightness and darkness. A Red can be a light color or a dark color depending on the hue that is being used. Just because you have a very bright yellow does not mean it is darker – it is still a light value.

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Image of an Ocelot walking in the wildThis ocelot was pacing around in his cage at the West Palm Beach Zoo recently. They are nocturnal animals but all the little kids were making lots of noise at the zoo that seemed to be making him nervous I think. He finally found a dark cool tube and was sound asleep before too long. This workflow was very long – just say that it involved lots of filters and hand-painting in Photoshop, and creating a hand-painting a Corel Painter background. Also the beautiful clouds were created from Grut’s  wonderful FX Cloud Brushes – the best around! The last step was adding the Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer and dragging down the curve just a little. It really made the Ocelot look like he was actually part of the added background.

This is a pretty simple trick to use. If you have an object you are trying to blend into the image or just do not like the overall contrast in the image, try this. It seems to be improving a lot of my recent images! Have a good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO CREATE AN ILLUSTRATIVE TEXTURED IMAGE FROM A PHOTO

Image of a Palm TreeThis week I am going to just show a couple tricks about how to get this more illustrative look and how to use an overlay from a texture to get a nice effect. This is a beautiful Palm Tree that was growing in West Palm Beach at the hotel. It had a really green background and detail that was making it hard to separate the tree out. So this is how I got what I consider a rather nice effect.

So I am going over the basic workflow which was used on both this image and the foxes image below. Most of these steps I have covered in recent blogs on how to do them so I will direct you to them if you need to refer back.

    1. This image was adjusted using Adobe Camera Raw – just changed several Basic sliders. Lightroom was used in the second image changing only the DeHaze, Highlight and Shadow sliders and removing a little Noise.
    2. In Photoshop the bottom layer was duplicated by clicking CTRL+J (if opened as a Smart Object, which preserves your ACR settings as with the image above, need to  right click on the top layer and select Rasterize Layer to remove the Smart Object).
    3. This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail was used on the top image and Topaz Clarity on the bottom layer to just sharpen up the details. Any sharpening method works fine but start with a sharp image and remove the detail later if needed. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3 blog and my More Clarity on Topaz Clarity blog.)
    4. The Foxes can easily be removed from their distracting background, so at this point Topaz ReMask 5 was used, but any selection tool would have worked fine. (Try using the Quick Selection Tool, Magic Wand, or  Quick Mask with the Refine Edge Command.) This  would have been an impossible task with the Palm Tree image at this point. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is? blog.)
    5. Next the free JixiPix Spectrel Art was used on both images. The Palm Tree used the Dark Edges preset and the background was painted out using the Erase Brush in the plug-in. For the Foxes, the Topaz ReMask layer is opened in Spectrel Art and Dark Lines preset was used. Those two presets seem to be my favorites. Both image were set to Screen blend mode on this layer in Photoshop. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-In.)
    6. Now the newly free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 is used on both images. The Palm Tree used these 4 stacked filters: Film Efex: Vintage using Film Type 6, Glamour Glow, Lighten/Darken Center, and Color Set Monday Morning using Neutral. This gave the image a bit of nice glow in the image. The Fox image used the same first three filters (Film Efex: Vintage used Color Set 14) but the last one used Detail Extractor set to 20%. ( See my Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Nik Color Efex Pro 4!)
    7. Now clean up layers were used on both images. For the Palm Tree, a New Layer was created and just sampled the background area and painted around where the distractions were. Brush used was a free brush from Ditlev Fine Art Br Vol1-SB 6 13 – nice texture at a lower flow and just built up the effect so it looks somewhat painterly around the tree fronds. For the Foxes, used a chalk brush at very low opacity to reduce lines that were distracting and emphasized the head of the foxes which is the focal point.
    8. Now the overlays are used. For the Palm Trees, the French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Artiste Bold Brush 2 texture was opened in another document. By going to Select Color and choosing Highlights and the check the Invert checkbox, a selection of only the color was created. Close the dialog and add a layer mask to the layer and the whites will be deleted from the image. I recommend using a texture with lots of grain and color to get an interesting overlay look. Now this layer can be saved as a PNG file to be used again. It was placed into the Palm Tree file and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between layers) to get the light turquoise color on the overlay. The layer opacity was set to 74%. This is one of my favorite overlays – I like for my image to show through better and it does not require a blend mode which can change the colors or the light values in the image. A layer mask was used to lightly remove some of the texture off the Palm Trees. The Foxes used the exact same process – this time two different textures were used from 2 Little Owl’s Studios (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link): Stained Glass 14 with the Highlights removed in Select Color at 32% layer opacity; and Starry Night 5 which used only the darker areas and was set to 84% layer opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.)
    9. Now an extra step occurred in the Foxes image, mainly some lightening and darkening Curves Adjustment layers to differentiate the right fox head from the back of the left fox. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.)
    10. Next Topaz Lens Effects was applied to both images where the Reflector filter using a Gold preset – this directed the lighted the light from a certain direction to give both images a warmer feeling. Just fiddle with the sliders until it looks good. If you do not have the plug-in, use Camera Raw Filter’s Radial Filter and add a touch of yellow Temperature and a little Exposure and make a big circle half off the image to warm up a side a little bit. (See my Topaz Lens Effects for Some Image Fun! blog.)
    11. New Layers were created in both images and just a little speckle brush was used to paint in around the trees and foxes to give a more painterly effect. The layer opacity was set to 60% so as not to look too fake.
    12. For the Fox image, a final step of adding French Kiss’s Sponged Edge border overlay to further give a little painter effect to the border. A Gradient Adjustment Layer was clipped to it that contained a warm orange to a gold gradient. The Gradient Adjustment Layer opacity was set to 36% and the Border was set to 35% layer opacity. Very subtle.

Image of sleeping Fennoc FoxesThese little Fennec Foxes were taking a snooze at the West Palm Beach Zoo on a sunny day. I was trying to give the impression that they were having wonderful dreams. I know the workflow above is a little extensive, and there are several different ways you can improve upon the effect. Still, I personally like that part photo – part illustrative look you can achieve with the various filters. And most can be reproduced with Photoshop and free plug-ins. Of course I am still a big Topaz fan, but there are always other ways to get a similar look.

One of the things I hope you try is Step 8 above. If you have some favorite textures, try removing a color out of them or highlights or shadows – this can really give a unique feel to an image and I do prefer a good PNG file over a JPG texture many times. Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO ADD AN ABSTRACT SHAPE FOR A FRAMING EFFECT

Siamang Ape at the West Palm Beach ZooThis week I thought I would cover a little trick that I learned from Photoshop guru Corey Barker in his Master FX Trick Shots video section called Abstract Shape Effect. Corey added several other elements to his tutorial, but the basic framing concept is pretty cool. The image above was taken of a Siamang Ape at the West Palm Beach Zoo and I am sure he runs this zoo! He was climbing up a huge tree in the middle of the zoo to announce in a rather commanding call the opening of the Zoo!

To do this technique you need to decide first how the main subject should be set up in the image, what texture(s) is to be used, and finally find a really nice brush or PNG file for framing your subject inside.

Workflow for Framing Effect

1.     Clean up image in Lightroom or ACR and Photoshop as needed.

2.     Choose a texture to place behind your image. In this case I selected a texture I had created a while ago. (For instructions on how this was done, see my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) The very organic nature of the texture blended well with the image being blended into the texture.

3.     For the framing effect, a black layer mask is needed – to get a black mask: either hold down the ALT key when clicking the layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel, or just add a white layer mask and click inside it, then press CTRL+I to reverse the white to black.

4.     Below are a couple ways to get an interesting frame are:

With Brushes:

  • You can paint your subject back in with a white brush using a smaller brush with a rough edges. Try painting not just at 100% white or black – use a 25 or 30% brush opacity to get some nice rough edges. A basic Photoshop chalk brush can give some interesting edge results.
  • Try using a large brush that requires just one or two nice dab stroke. The watercolor brush strokes can make some good marks in your layer mask. If the stroke does not look like it is lining up correctly, change the size and the angle of the stroke by just dragging in the Brush Panel Brush Tip Shape circle with the arrows and set where you want. it may tape a bit of experimentation to get this set just right. Here are a couple sets of free brushes that have some nice dabs for framing effects:  Spoon Graphics Watercolour Set 1 with 7 brushes, and Big Brush Strokes for Frames by Doodle Lee Doo with 53 brushes. For the above image, French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Dry Brush No 1-10 was used.

With vector objects or PNG files (this is a little harder to do but is nice if you have a certain object to place over the subject in mind):

Go to Adobe Bridge and find the file you wish to apply to the layer mask. Go to File -> Place -> Photoshop  – it does not matter where it is loaded in the PS file as it will be deleted. Adjust the object to fit approximately where you want it in your image. CTRL+click on this layer to select the object, highlight the subject layer and click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. You may see something that looks rather messy – at this point, delete the original object file you just brought in as it can conflict with the mask you are working with. Take a small chalk or round brush and maybe add some Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of 20% to add variation on edges and paint with white – your subject will show up. Use a lower brush opacity if you want a more blended edge look. If it is not in the correct place, you can CTRL+T on the mask to Free Transform it – can flip or stretch it. Just build up where you want the subject to be seen clearly.

There are so many things you can do with this type of framing. Make part of your image come out onto the frame like the trees do in the above. The image below used both of the free sets of brushes and a free texture called Happy Easter which matched the colors in the butterfly nicely. This time the subject Butterfly Topiary at the Cityplace in West Palm Beach, Florida, was cut out using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask5. It was placed on top of the background and another texture I painted in Painter. On the Painter layer, the free brushes were used in the layer mask to get the unusual effect. On the Butterfly layer an Inner Glow layer style was added – the Contour was changed to get the little line to go around the butterfly. Just a lot of playing with different Layer Styles and brushes to get a result I liked. The Butterfly image looks a lot different, but used the same workflow.

Image of a Butterfly Topiary from Cityplace in West Palm BeachWell hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday – Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To use a Photo Frame Mask
Just a Frame Flower