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DIGITAL LADY SYD REVIEWS LUCIS PRO 6.0.9 (NOW AFFORDABLE!)

Image of a painted Tri-Color Ginger PlantThis week is yet another Photoshop plug-in that I am really excited about using. If you have followed plug-ins for years, you know that Lucis has always had some of the best effects ever made. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 has been reduced in price to $30.00 now and that makes it very manageable. (Now priced at $6 until August 31 st when site closes – see my more recent blog How to Get a More Illustrative Look with Lucis Pro 6.0.9.)I had to get it! Now what to do with it? Marilyn Sholin, another wonderful Corel Painter Elite, has provided us with a very short video on how to use this filter – it is not that hard and gives a wonderful pop to your images. See Sholin Lucis Pro video for tips on using this filter and an additional discount code. The Tri-Colored Ginger plant taken in West Palm Beach used this filter at the end of the workflow as Marilyn suggests – either at the beginning or the end.

Below is the original (left image).  For middle image, the plant was selected using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask. Topaz Impression’s Cezanne II preset was applied to just the selection, one of my Corel Painter textures was placed underneath, Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to emphasize the center focal point, and a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to just adjust the tone of the image. Topaz ReStyle was used to add more of a pink color palette (see right image) and a Darken Detail layer was created to emphasize some of the lines in the plant. For final step to get image above,  Lucis 6.0.9 was applied and the colors really popped nicely.  (Settings used – Enhance Detail:  Red Channel 199/Green Channel 155/Blue Channel 203.  Mix with Original Image 39% Processed and 61% Original.) For more info on how to perform other steps, see Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below.
Different stage of painting this image.

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Here is another example of the result that can be achieved with this very good plug-in. This image is of the Drawing Room in the 55-room mansion of Henry Flagler that is called the Flagler Museum or Whitehall. Wonderful place to visit!

Image of the Drawing Room at the Flagler Museum (Whitehall)In this case Lucis Pro was applied close to the beginning of the post-processing in Photoshop, right after removing a little noise and the ropes at entrance to the room. (See image below for original as brought in from Lightroom.) Then Lucis Pro was applied using these settings: Enhance Detail Channels – Red 51737/Green 44631/Blue 35165 – large numbers due to the fact the image was in 16-bit mode; Mix with Original Image – 43 % processed and 57% original. This really brought out the detail in all the small items in the room without making the image look crunchy. I found this pretty incredible! The effect can be as subtle as you want. The results look pretty subtle here, but at 100% magnification, the difference can be seen very clearly.

Original image of the Drawing Room at Whitehall

There is a nice PDF Manual that is downloaded with the plug-in which takes you through all the different sliders and what they mean. For me, to get the best results:

  1. Click the Split Channels box on.
  2. Uncheck the Display Composite box.
  3. Adjust the Enhance Detail sliders for each channel to get a good black and white result in each channel. The Smooth Detail sliders are kept at 1.
  4. Turn on the Display Composite Image checkbox. Sometimes the colors will look really bad at this point. If there is a color shift that you do not like, move the Assign Original Image Color slider to 0% Processed/100% Original.
  5. Go back and adjust the Enhance Detail sliders in each channel to make the colors and amount of details just right.
  6. If the results are a little over-cooked, adjust the Mix With Original Image slider which will pull back in some of the the original image.

There are several other sliders and fields in the interface that I did not use but the manual does a good job of explaining all their functions. Check out their User Interface page.  The above workflow is basically what Marilyn Sholin goes over in her video and seems easy to use.

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Image of a white gardeniaThis beautiful white gardenia was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, and was my first attempt at using this plug-in. I did not want too much color in the flower, only a touch. (Settings used: Enhance Detail:  Red Channel 129/Green Channel 125/Blue Channel 95.  Mix with Original Image 70% Processed and 30% Original.) It is not that important that you understand all the mechanics going on under-the-hood, just experiment with the sliders and the image will eventually look really good. This seems to be a handy plug-in to use, especially when that little bit of extra detail is needed. I have even used this plug-in after applying my favorite Topaz Detail 3 – they work fine together. Here is another technique used to get this Lucis effect shown in my The Sculpture Called Reaching Tidbits Blog.

I just noticed I am not sure there is an option to try out this plug-in first which is too bad. I have always loved the Lucis filters but was unable to afford them. I am so happy they have reduced their price on this one as it is so much fun to use and does a very good job with both detail and adding a little color into an image. Hope you are enjoying the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReMask 5
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
Applying a Filter to Objects on a Layer
How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast In an Image
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!

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HOW TO USE THE FREE SPECTREL ART PLUG-IN

Image of Sandals taken at City Place in West Palm Beach, Florida
Had a blog glitch but finally got this one up. I have to thank Corel Master Elite Karen Bonaker for this wonderful find – a really fun free plug-in called Spectrel Art from JixiPix.  My initial impression was this can’t be that good if it is free. I was pleasantly surprised. What is really cool about this plug-in is that it uses a brush where you can either localize the effect by brushing it in or erasing it.

This is very similar in effect to Topaz Glow which is one of my favorite special effects plug-ins. Both plug-ins usually need a blend mode change. Once in Photoshop, the above Spectrel Art layer was set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 44% layer opacity. In the Topaz Glow image below, the layer was set to Soft Light blend mode at 50% layer opacity. The effect can be way too strong if left at 100% layer opacity – add layer masks if you want to further localize the effect in Spectrel Art. Topaz Glow does not have a brush to localize the effect in the plug-in so a layer mask must be used in Photoshop to do this. Below it can be seen how similar the results were with Topaz Glow using the same vignette and spotlight effects.

Image of shoes using Topaz Glow

This is not to say this plug-in will replace Topaz Glow – Glow has a lot more sliders and presets for a lot more choices (see my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Glow blog) , but for a free plug-in, Spectrel Arts does a pretty nice job. For comparison, below is the original show image after doing basic changes in Adobe Camera Raw.

Original Show image

To finish up this image, a white spotlight layer was placed on all the flowers (see my How to Add a Soft Spotlight Light blog) on the shoes and a soft vignette was placed around the outside of the image.

Spectrel Art has 27 presets that seem to be a really nice assortment of settings. There are also several sliders that can adjust the effect. In the top image and the screenshot below, the preset 18 Dark Lines was selected and the Detail Style changed to Soft.

Screenshot of Spectrel Art interfaceAccording to JixiPix’s website:

  • The Detail slider increases the amount of intersecting lines and Colorize Detail adds color to the lines. The Detail Style buttons deal with the amount of glow color and light applied to the image.
  • Taper Length creates an abstract style to the longer intersecting lines. Use Light Taper Style for white highlights and outlines effect – can use Lighten slider to illuminate the whole scene and Brighten to illuminate the outlines; and use Dark for stark contrast of black intersecting lines – can use Blacken to strengthen the overall dark areas and Blacken to increase the dark outlines.
  • Edge Sharpen defines and emphasizes the lines.
  • Color Boost enhances overall color.
  • Contrast darkens shaded areas and brightens the light ones.
  • Smoothing softens the curves in the lines.

That about sums up all the controls – very easy to use. Below the image of a white orchid butterfly taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo is another example using this plug-in. (Here are the settings used: Detail 64-just press the dot on the slider to get the amount, Colorize Detail 81, Detail Style Soft, Taper Length 50, Taper Style Light with Lighten set to 50 and Brighten 40, Edge Sharpen 98, Color Boost 21, Contrast 60, and Smoothing 68.) The layer was set to Color Burn at 51% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed on top and Greens was set to Hue -31/Sat -70/Lightness -61 to reduce the really bright green in the background. On a New Layer a Mixer Brush was used to smooth over the sharp edges of the colors. Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a dark olive green vignette was used. That was it. The Spectrel Art plug-in made the butterfly really pop!

Image of a White Peacock ButterflyHope you will try out this plug-in – it is a lot of fun and you can’t beat the price! I hope to have time to really see what it will do. JixiPix seems to have a lot of other plug-ins that I might try out as they look interesting. Anyway, have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Coming At You!


HOW TO USE GOOGLE (NIK) HDR EFEX PRO 2

Image of Memorial Gardens in Ormond Beach, FloridaThis week I thought I would just show a quick image that used Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, one of the 7 plug-ins in the now free Google (Nik) Collection. I do not do much HDR shooting anymore, but here is an image taken a few years ago that used 5 bracketed shots. If you like to shoot HDR, I would definitely check out this software – it is different from both Lightroom’s and Photomatix Pro’s HDR results. I had done a previous review years ago (see my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 blog) and still love the plug-in as much as before. So here were the quick steps that got this effect:

  1. From Lightroom, all the images were selected and opened in Photoshop as individual files.
  2. Next the plug-in was opened in Photoshop by going to File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR Efex Pro2 – press the “Add open file” and then the Merge Dialog button. You can click the check box for Create Smart Object so you can go back in and adjust effect. (Can apply plug-in from LR by going to File -> Export with Preset -> Merge to HDR Efex Pro2.)
  3. Check Alignment if images not shot on a tripod. Same with Ghost Reduction – move slider at bottom to show image that shows image with movement that looks best as in clouds or trees. Always check Remove Chromatic Aberration.
  4. Now just presss Create HDR – a tiff file is created.
  5. The Default preset is automatically applied to the image. Now the fun is going through all the presets and see which one(s) look best on the image. Experiment with the sliders on the right. Tone Compression is the amount of HDR effect seen – set all the way left there is no HDR effect. Method Strength slider goes from very weak to very crunchy looking. All the other sliders can create some nice effects. If you find a combination you, just create a preset by pressing the (+) sign in the Custom section on the left. The above image used the Deep 2 preset to start.
  6. Note this image is now set to 32-Bits/Channel – this is a huge file and lots of PS effects and actions will not run on it. I change it to 16 or 8 bit mode so I can do things as in the next step. Go to File -> Mode -> 8-Bits/Channel. This causes the file to be merged down and the Smart Object is rasterized. (If you duplicate the Smart Object and rasterize the layer, turn the eye off the bottom Smart Object layer, and now change the mode, select Don’t Merge Layers, the Smart Object info can be retained in the layer that is turned off – sort of a hassle, but it can be done.)
  7. Here is a tip from one of my favorite Photoshop people, Scott Kelby, which he offered in his videos on this plug-in. Apply the HDR effect and then take the resulting effect into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (another wonderful plug-in and is included in the download bundle) and select the Glamour Glow filter set to the default preset. He says it is the magic that really pulls the realistic HDR effect together and does not look over-the-top. That is what was done above.

To finish up the image, the waterfall was blurred so it looks a little more like a long exposure. (See my Smoothing Out Those Waterfalls blog on how to do this.) In this case, two Motion Blur layers were created since the water flows in a couple different directions. Also the slight blue chromatic aberration edging in the small sky in the upper left was removed by using the technique in my A New Look at Chromatic Aberration blog – worked beautifully. That is all that was done.

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Here is an image that used the Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 plug-in that was done a while back. Just another good example of how this looks. I really like the effect in the skies. This image used Grannys Attic preset.

Hilton Time Share on the Big Island Hawaii********

The London of Parliament image taken several years ago used both the free Nik HDR Pro Efex 2 and free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (see my Make an Ordinary Image Interesting Tidbits Blog for info on how to do this.)

Image of the Parliament Building in London, England********

Here is another example using the previous version, Nik HDR Efex Pro – I really liked how this image turned out – it the used Grannys Attic preset, but it had some different parameters in the first edition, which was also very nice.

Image of a craggy tree in HawaiiHope you will download this Google (Nik) collection of plug-ins – you will not be disappointed. As far as the HDR Efex Pro 2 goes, as Scott Kelby says, try it as it has a little different look from other HDR software and you might really like it. This is true of all their plug-ins – give them a try. I have always loved the Nik plug-ins – they run very smoothly even on older computers. When used with a Smart Object, the settings are preserved, even the control points that are used to localize the effects, so you can go back and adjust later. Sad to see this is probably the end of this plug-in but at least everyone now has a chance to use it. Have a great week experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd


A NEW LOOK AT CHROMATIC ABERRATION

Image of the Carousel at Jacksonville ZooThought I would share a tip that can really improve your photos, especially landscapes. Wikipedia says “Chromatic aberration manifests itself as “fringes” of color along boundaries that separate dark and bright parts of the image.” This seems to be very apparent in blue skies in landscapes with lots of trees. The above image was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo of a vintage-looking carousel (see my Only in Florida! Tidbits Blog for a closer look). Just a few Basic panel adjustments Lens Corrections (checking just the Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration boxes) were done in Lightroom before opening up Photoshop.

This technique was passed along by one of my favorite Photoshop people, Blake Rudis (who says he learned it from Steve Perry), at his f64 Academy in a video called The Color Blend Mode – there is a free downloadable action here to do this technique. The image had some empty branches against the blue sky along with was some real blue-cyan chromatic aberration. In Lightroom the Remove Chromatic Aberration checkbox did not remove this and to be honest, I did not  notice it until I was in Photoshop since only the upper corners were affected. Below it can be seen what a subtle difference the technique makes – you can definitely see the cyan color shift due to the Chromatic Aberration in the sky. It is hard to see, but the branches on the right side image look a bit darker and sharper, especially where the larger branches are present. This was also true on the upper left side of the image.

Image showing with and without Chromatic Aberration

So here are my steps to get rid of this ugly blue edging in this case but it will work on any color of chromatic aberration.

  1. Duplicate the Background layer (CTRL+J) and turn it into a Smart Object by right clicking on the layer text area and selecting Convert to Smart Object. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) could be used and duplicated if in the middle of post-processing.
  2. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius somewhere between 6 and 20. I used 6.8 for this image.
  3. Change the layer blend mode to Color – now the whole image is blurred.
  4. Click in the Smart Filter layer mask and CTRL+I to turn it black. With a regular soft round brush, paint with white just in the areas you want the blur to correct the chromatic aberration.

Blake does not use a Smart Object, just applies the filter and adds a black layer mask – then paints back areas that need correction. This technique also works if the chromatic aberration is not completely removed when using the Camera Raw filter. What is really useful is that this is a localized correction and only affects the part of the image that needs the correction. The Blur does not affect the whole image! I find this gives a very subtle and sharp result to the bad areas. Here is a link to one of my Tidbits Blogs called  Defringe that Nasty Blue Edge from Trees On a Bright Blue Sky! done a while ago where 4 other ways to remove Chromatic Aberration are presented if you would like to try out some other techniques.

There were lots of steps used for final processing in this image – Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow, Topaz DeNoise, Photo Filter Adjustment Layer, Vignette, and clean up layers. Overall I was pretty happy with the final results.

Give this Chromatic Aberration trick a go, especially if you have cyan blue going around those branches in trees. It works really great! Also check out Blake’s f64 Academy website as he has lots of great ideas on improving pictures. Well, back to my organizing until next week…..Digital Lady Syd


APPLYING A FILTER TO OBJECTS ON A LAYER

Image of giraffes on painted background Still working around my office, but thought I would post a picture showing a little group of giraffes taken at the Jacksonville Zoo. The basic technique is that you can apply a filter to a layer without applying it to the whole image to tie it all together very easily.

The giraffes were selected in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask 5 but any method works fine, then the resulting  layer mask was applied in PS. Next one of my Corel painted textures was placed underneath the giraffe layer. Topaz Impression was opened on the giraffe layer and the Van Gogh I preset was applied with no changes. The small giraffe’s head was too dark so it was lightened by adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to lighten the head (ignored the rest of the image) – then filled the layer mask with black and painted back with a low opacity soft round white brush just the head. On three separate new layers above, the free Frostbo’s Grass Set 2 brushes were used to add the grass – just change the size and add Color Dynamics for brush variety. These layers were put in a group and the group duplicated.  Turned off the original group and with the duplicated group, right clicked and selected Merge Group. Topaz Impression Van Gogh I was also applied to the grass which really give it a nice painterly effect. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Light It Up overlay in mini set 5 was placed on top and set to Color blend mode at 85% layer opacity. This warmed up the image a little. Topaz ReStyle was added at 47% layer opacity to give a bit of color back into the giraffe bodies. Dodging and Burning was done with Overlay layers using a black or white brush set to 15% brush opacity. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik Viveza 2 (now free – go get it!) was used to emphasize the focal points and add a slight vignette feel in the corners. That was it.

Hope you got a few tips here – the best thing to understand is that you can actually apply a filter just to a layer that contains objects only for some pretty nice effects – it does not have to be applied to the whole image……Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE THE SPOT HEALING BRUSH – REALLY IMPROVED NOW!

Image of a Malayan Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooOnce again, had to share something I think is rather cool. I usually do most of my post-processing in Photoshop CS6 because I do most of my painting with it. (I have my favorite brushes saved in the Tool Presets, I can use my own Flash panels, and the Mixer brushes paint faster.) But that does not mean I do not like Photoshop CC 2015. Adobe has greatly improved the Spot Healing Tool from earlier versions of CC and it seems CS6 and I just wanted to show how good it now is. The above image of a Malayan Tiger (I think) was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo inside a room with large bars in front of his beautiful face – they were doing a little tiger demonstration for the visitors so so you could see them up close. I really loved the expression on his face, so I decided to experiment in PS and see  if I could get a good image from the original – the left image below.

Before and After of Spot Healed image.

By selecting the Spot Healing Brush and setting the Options Bar settings to Mode Replace (This mode works best for me – per Adobe it preserves noise, film grain, and texture at the edges of the brush stroke when using a soft‑edge brush), Type Content-Aware and Sample All Layers, I was able to remove the bars completely – no other tools or cloning needed! I found that using short strokes was most useful and going over it a couple of times was sometimes needed. Apparently the Tool will learn how you want the area filled. I used a brush that was slightly larger than the chicken wire bar to be removed to help with the fill in information. I also used a layer above to make my corrections on so if something was really messed up, it could be erased and redone in just that area. See the right image above for spot-healing results. Obviously it was not totally perfect, but not bad at all!

Finalized the image by creating a stamped layer, and applying Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 2 to sharpen the face. One of my textures created in Painter was added underneath the tiger. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was added to the texture – sliders were adjusted and set to Tint using a beige color. This darkened the texture quite a bit. A layer mask was added to the stamped layer so the texture could be used for the background. Another stamped layer was created and Topaz Impression’s Photo Painting III preset was applied as is and set to Saturation blend mode. A layer mask was added to bring back some of the whiskers and facial detail. A little painting was done on a layer for clean up of the face. The eyes were sharpened using an Exposure Adjustment Level.  Nik Viveza 2 was used to add focus to the face – everyone can do this now that the plug-in is free! The last step was to add two Curves Adjustment Layers set to Luminosity blend mode – used to darken the image and one to lighten. Fill layer masks with black and paint back to dodge and burn. That was it.

Such for not blogging, but I was so surprised how good the Spot Healing Brush is working over the one in Photoshop CS6 and wanted to share – anyway, have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop
How to Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image


HOW TO MAKE A BASIC COMPOSITE IMAGE

Image of a little girl thinking of her favorite things!The above is a pretty good example of a composite. Just one new image of this beautiful little girl this week as compositing takes a while to do correctly. She was looking through a chain-length fence at some flowers outside the Jacksonville Zoo in very bright sunlight, so I had to put her in a more suitable place. Last year I did a blog called How to Use the PixelSquid Add-On in Photoshop that was an example of creating a composite image using their 3D components. This image used various elements from Scrapbook sites that provide so much wonderful content.

I think the hardest thing about doing a composite is to make it look like all the elements fit together even though they come from different sources. Since the sun was very strong on the little girl, I decided to use her lighting throughout the image. First the little girl was removed from the original image using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask. It was not a perfect layer mask as her hair was a little rough, but for this image the color contamination blended in just fine. The next thing was to find a nice background to place her in. This is one I call Bright Fall Leaves that was created in Corel Painter a while back. With backgrounds it just takes a lot of experimentation to find the one that creates an effect you like. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was actually applied to the background to make it more saturated (+39) and childlike. I liked the way it looked as if there was a little trail she could follow out of the image.

After this, some really cute elements were added in. Note that when using scrapbooking websites, usually the individual person who creates a set of elements requires some form of link back to their sites. Check out these scrapbooking sites as they have some wonderful free sets to practice using and many inexpensive sets for creating some fabulous designs. The E-scape and Scrap Pinkish Frog is from FS Pinkish Scrapbook; the Mr. Whiskers Bird, Deer, and Plant on left are all from a really cute set called Hollewood HappyUnbday by Lorie Davison of scrapbookgraphics.com; the Bug in her hand is also by Lorie called sendingalittlehappinessyourway-littledragonfly1: and the Flowers on the right are from Algera Designs. All these elements needed either a Topaz Lens Effects right side reflector filter preset or a Color Balance Adjustment Layer. It is important to get all the elements blending together and I find both these choices work best for me.

I still was not happy with how everything was blending together, especially the girl’s skin, so I decided to try a technique that seems to be rather popular on images. Many creatives are taking their images into Topaz Impression and applying a preset. Then back in Photoshop they are either lowering the blend mode so it barely applies to the image, adding a layer mask and just using the preset for softening the backgrounds, or changing the blend mode of the filter plug-in to get some different effects. For this image, a stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Impression’s Ethereal Glaze by Blake Rudis was applied. Now the girl’s skin just blended into the image beautifully and the tone was really nice. But it took a lot of the interesting detail out of my background texture. Therefore a layer mask was added and a soft round brush set to 30% layer opacity was added. Just built up areas where I wanted my rough effect showing through by painting in black. The major elements were slightly painted back to make them stand out a little more in the image. The last step was to use Nik Viveza 2 to balance out the brightness in the image to get that balanced sunny feel throughout.

So what I discovered is that for some basic compositing, use a reflector filter effect to even out the lighting in all elements. Topaz Lens Effects or Nik Color Efex Pro both have filters that will do this nicely. I have not tried out PS Lighting Effects, but that might work just fine. Also Color Balance Adjustment Layers work nicely to even out color tones since they can be adjusted in Highlights, Shadows and Midtones. Several were used to blend in the elements. Then try out a paint plug-in like Topaz Impression or Snap Art 4 to blend elements together into something that looks quite natural. And do not forget those shadows – either lighten them up or add them in when needed.

Image of an some Victorian young ladiesThis image is from my Tidbits Blog called A Victorian Visit. Similar steps were used to create this effect. It is so much fun to create images this way. Compositing is a nice technique to learn if you are into the design world. Experimentation can give some of the best results so that is what I recommend to get some really creative results. Check out the blogs below for a couple other examples. Hope you get a chance to try some of these tips!…..Digital Lady Syd

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How to Create an Image From Nothing!
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