Anything Photoshop or Photography



Image of the Parrot of Paradise from Cuba
This week I have been playing around with some very old images from historical volumes that are readily available on line. I was surprised how many interesting items can be found in these old volumes and they are copyright free due to the old dates. I found that using these illustrations and text can create some very nice vintage effects. Thought I would share a couple tricks on how to get this info out of a downloaded PDF book file opened with the Acrobat Reader software and into your Photoshop files. Please do not copy from books that are currently copyrighted or remove photos from their files. This process should only be used on really old volumes where no copyright infringement is being violated. Read the copyright information on the book’s download site before using it in your own work.

The Parrot of Paradise from Cuba (could not figure out which bird this really is) was taken from an old volume printed in 1754 called The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and Bahama Islands – the downloadable PDF (on right side in web link) contains just the Bird portion of the volume. I have to thank one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah Vernon and her First Night Design Blog, for sharing this particular info with her readers (and check out her blog to see some beautiful vintage type items for sale). Now what is particularly cool about this book is that the text is in both Old English as shown in the image or French. And the text about both birds were copied from the book. For you ephemeral fans, this is a bonanza!

Capturing Text

So how do you capture the text? There are two ways to do this depending on what you want to do with the text. Do you want the text to appear as is does in the PDF file, or do you want to just copy the text letter-by-letter and select a different font for your image. Both of these images used the second method.

Method 1 – Copying Text as It Appears in the PDF file

  1. Find a page in the PDF document with text that would look good in your composition. Many times there are lead fancy letters that would be nice to have in a vintage piece.
  2. In Acrobat Reader, click on the little upward Arrow icon (Selection tool for text and images) in the Options Bar at top. Click inside Page and a little cross-hair icon appears – just line up the text wanted, then click and drag out a box around it. A blue overlay will appear over the selected text. Right click inside overlay and and choose Copy Image (even though it is not really an image).
  3. Open Photoshop and go to File -> New Document -> Clipboard and Create.
  4. Go to Edit -> Place and a new layer will appear on top of the Background layer with the text showing up as a light brown color and a black background. Therefore, the layer needs to be inverted (CTRL+I) so it appears as a light blue on a white background.
  5. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer on top and pull the bottom black tab on the left all the way across to the right side by the white tab. The text appears as a very readable black and white text.
  6. Create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top.
  7. Go to Select -> Color Range and set the layer to Highlights in the drop-down (Fuzziness 0 and Range 216) and check the Invert Button so White lettering will be selected and the black is removed. Click OK – an active selection of the the letters will be shown.
  8. Add a New Layer and with the Foreground color set to black (if that is the color you want), press ALT+Backspace – the lettering is now on its own layer.
  9. If you want to keep this text for use again, highlight the text layer, and go to Layers -> Duplicate, and in the Document field drop-down, instead of using the current file name, select New. Now a new document with just that layer of text is selected. Save the text as a PNG file if you want the transparency to stay with the layer or as a JPG if want a layer with the white background color to be added (if white was the Background Contents color when original file was created).

Method 2 – Copy the Text Letter-by-Letter to Use with a Different Font

  1. Find a page in the PDF document with text that would look good in your composition.
  2. With the Selection Tool chosen (upward arrow), drag out a selection – by clicking inside the PDF just before the text to be copied and highlight by dragging your cursor to end of the text.
  3. Go to Edit -> Copy. (CTRL+C)
  4. Open Photoshop and create a New Document – any size will do like 8 1/2 inches X 11 inches at 300 ppi.
  5. Select the Horizontal Text Tool and drag out a box in the document to add the text copied from the Acrobat Reader volume. Click the checkmark (or double click inside layer) to set the text, even if letter size and font is incorrect. Press CTRL+V to paste or go to Edit -> Paste. Note that the text will not copy into Photoshop without a text box being drawn out first.
  6. Triple click inside text box to select all the individual letters. Open the Properties Panel, click ALT+H to hide the black highlighting, and open the drop-down menu that contains all the different fonts – use your mouse scroll wheel to run through them to find one you like.
  7. Now adjust size and text evenly so it fits in the text box created in Step 5.
  8. To be able to save this text as a PNG file or JPG file, go to Step 9 above. Note that when a text layer is duplicated, it will be rasterized in the new file and is not longer editable.

The text can be transformed, layer styles applied, different colors or patterns added, duplicated and flipped, anything that is needed. In the image above, a color was sampled from the bird for the text and placed over the bird. Then a layer mask was applied and the lettering removed from the bird. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio was used on the bird layer where the Radiance filter was applied to give it more line strength in the bird itself and the Color Theme filter was opened. A soft blue color was added as the last color that filled in the background with the pretty gray-blue vintage look.
Image of a Red Curlew bird from a vintage bookThe bird image (which was taken directly from the book in this case) layer above is of a Red Curlew bird (once again not sure what type of bird it is now called) and was actually taken into Topaz Impression and the Cartoon Your Critter preset was applied. A few different textures were used for the background and a box was used to add in the text about the bird in French from the book. What an interesting looking bird!

Capturing Image

I cannot leave you hanging – the best way to copy the image from a PDF document is as follows.

  1. With page open to image to copy out of the PDF in Acrobat Reader, select the icon next to the View Size field so book is viewed in single-mode view.
  2. Go to Edit -> Copy File to Clipboard (do not use Snapshot or CTRL+C). A slider showing Copying to Clipboard will appear at bottom of page when it is processing this info.
  3. Open Photoshop and go to File -> New Document -> Clipboard and Create, or if a file is already open go to Edit -> Paste Special -> Paste in Place. If placing in a document, the image may need to adjusted to fit using the Free Transform command (CTRL+T). See below for more on this.

Check the size and resolution of the bird image if brought in on the clipboard – there can be a lot of pixelation on the image if changed to 300 ppi. For example, the parrot image was set to 150 ppi, which is the lowest amount to use on a for a 8 1/2 by 11 inch image to be printed. (First go the Image -> Image Size and uncheck Resample; set resolution to 150 in this case or 300 if you can; check Resample box; change the height and width to size needed; and when upsizing as in this case, adjust the Noise slider if needed. If just using the image on the Internet or computer, just leave the resolution at 72 ppi – no problems. For images placed in PS, there will probably be some pixelation which is what happened with the Red Curlew bird – that is one reason why Topaz Impression was used on the layer. The pixelation also gave an interesting ink look so it is not always a bad thing. Now the layer can be altered however you want. The bird images for this volume actually has a link to just the pictures that can be downloaded as a JPG directly to your hard drive – still not a very large image. The Parrot image was copied this way, but the Red Curlew was taken from my downloaded copy of the PDF file. This time the French text from the book was selected for the bird text. The text is not affect as much as the images where pixelation is concerned. Text layers are actually vector layers so they upsize very nicely. May need to watch once the layer is rasterized and no longer editable since that converts the layer into pixels.

Well I hope you will have some fun taking the Old English and French text and using it in all kinds of images. It is a lot of fun to use text that is directly related to the image being used, even if you cannot read the actual language. I have a couple more nice book references that I will link either in this blog or my Tidbits blog, so stay tuned. This vintage effect is very popular right now. Have a great weekend and 4th of July here in the US!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of Dive Boat and riders heading to ocean at Boynton Beach, FloridaI started to add this info into my How to Create My Favorite Brush post which used a Pattern in the Brush Panel and played a big role in the brush creation. There was so much to discuss about this topic, I decided to turn it into two blogs. Glad I did as I have recently learned a few new tricks on using Patterns that are discussed below.

Patterns..and How Crazy This Gets

When downloading Photoshop patterns from the Internet, the files must have a PAT extension (not JPG which most texture file extension use) to load them into your Pattern list. With Photoshop open, just double-click on the downloaded .PAT file and they load right into PS. Where are these patterns used? In the Pattern Fill Adjustment and Adjustment Layer where the Dialog obviously contains a Pattern drop-down menu. Click the little cog in upper right of the Pattern drop-down to add in other Patterns (another way to add them in – see below for more on this). The Content Aware Fill (Edit -> Fill) has a choice for Contents Pattern. Also are used in Layer Styles – Pattern Overlay section, Bevel and Emboss Texture section, and Stroke section (Fill Type) all contain the use of Patterns. When creating a brush using the Texture section of the Brush Panel, you are really adding a Pattern that carries a .PAT file extension, not a JPG. The following Brush Tools allow the use of a Texture section which uses Patterns: the Mixer Brush Tool, Pencil Tool, Eraser Tool, History Brush Tool, Art History Brush Tool, Clone Stamp Tool, Dodge Tool, Burn Tool, and  Sponge Tool . The Pattern Stamp Tool uses Patterns in both the brush settings and Options Bar. Several Tools have Patterns as a choice in the Options Bar: Bucket Tool (check out the Foreground drop-down. You can actually pour a Pattern onto a layer – who knew?), the Healing Brush (this is strange too!), all the Shape Tools set to Shape and clicking on Fill swatch and then clicking on the Pattern swatch, there is the pattern list. I may have missed a couple uses, but overall, I was amazed that Patterns are in all these places in Photoshop. And unfortunately, sometimes the Patterns are in Texture areas and sometimes not labeled at all – it can be a little confusing!

Loading and Creating a Pattern

If you want to convert one of your favorite textures or images into a Pattern, open the texture (which can be a JPG or PSD file) and go to Edit -> Define as a Pattern, name it and the pattern now appears at the bottom of your Pattern list. To see all your Patterns and to add more, go to Edit -> Presets -> Preset Manager and open Preset Type drop-down and select Patterns. The Patterns can be dragged around in the Preset Manager to put them in a better order. Click Load to add new ones or click the the little cog at top and see all the Photoshop canned presets available. (In case you wondered, the sets are: Artist Surfaces, Artists Brushes Canvas, Color Paper, Erodible Textures, Grayscale Paper, Legacy Patterns, Nature Patterns, Patterns 2, Patterns, Rock Patterns, Texture Fill 2, Texture Fill, Watercolour Patterns and Web Patterns – I had no idea all these were here!) Go to next section to see how to create a new pattern. It is useful to have colored and grayscale Patterns loaded. Even though the brush panel only uses the Patterns as grayscale color, the other Tools and commands will use the color. It is fun to try out watercolor blobs and brightly colored textures that you liked. And remember if you download Patterns, by double-clicking on the .PAT file will add them to the bottom of your Pattern List.

Creating a Noise Pattern for Your Library Panel

For some reason, it had not occurred to me that an Adjustment Layer could be saved and reused in the Library Panel. I do not use this panel much, but after watching Lisa Carney’s Color Techniques for Retouching classes on Creative Live this week, I am reconsidering. This noise tip came from her class on Portrait Retouching and involves creating a Pattern Adjustment Layer to add the final grain effect at the end of your workflow. She feels that adding a slight noise will pull an image together, especially when compositing. The image above of the Dive Boat going out to sea used this Noise Adjustment Layer – it looks really good with the vintage feel. (This results in a very similar look as the first tip in my 10 Not So Well Known Photoshop Tips blog where the Lens Blur Filter was used.)

Here is the workflow for this useful Adjustment Layer:

  1. Create a New Layer by clicking SHIFT + CTRL +N. In the Dialog name the layer Noise at this point, set it to Overlay blend mode, and check the Fill with overlay-neutral color (50% Gray). Note the blend mode must be set to Overlay before check box shows up.
  2. Go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set to 3, 5 or 8. Turn on Gaussian radio button and uncheck Monochromatic (do not want black and white grain on faces and skin especially).
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set to a Radius of .3 or .5 to lightly smooth.
  4. Desaturate the layer by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Hue/Saturation and set Saturation to -50.
  5. Go to Edit -> Define Pattern and name the pattern Add Noise 5-Gaus .3 Desat -50 so you know the settings used to create this Noise layer.
  6. In the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, select the Pattern Adjustment Layer – go to the bottom of the Patterns list and click on the new Pattern created in Step 5. The Scale can be adjusted if needed. Now would be a good time to rename the layer the same as the Pattern name if saving to the Library Panel in next step.
  7. Open Library Panel and drag the Pattern Adjustment Layer into panel. Anytime you want to add some noise at the end of your workflow, just right click on the Noise Pattern icon and select “Place Layers” – it appears in your image as a Pattern Adjustment Layer. Note: if you just select it, it will appear to be a rasterized version of the adjustment layer – this may be okay if that is what you want.
  8. Set the adjustment layer to Overlay blend mode and tweak the layer opacity if it needs it.

Image of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas

Using a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer to Add Texture to an Object

This image of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas used a little trick I use all the time to give the little birds on the sand some texture. Birds are from a 7 bird brushes for You set by justadistrict12 girl on DeviantArt (could not find a link). They were added using black color at 100% Brush Opacity and Flow. Then a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was added on top. It was then clipped to the bird layer (ALT+click between the layers) so that the Pattern is only applied to the birds and not the whole image. The Pattern used was a brown colored texture with beige lines going through it from a set redheadstock at DeviantArt called Lace Photoshop Patterns. It gives some detail to the birds making them look like they have a little definition where the wing would go. See Screenshot below. When dialog is open, the Scale can be changed and the Pattern moved by dragging it around in the image. This way the Pattern can be adjusted to give a nice effect. Now in this image, it may not look necessary to do this, but it makes the difference between making an image look finished or not. This is really nice on images where flying birds are added. Solid color birds will look like they are pasted into the image.

Screenshot of Pattern Adjustment Layer dialog
What is really nice about using the Pattern Adjustment Layer is that different noise patterns can be made using different settings in the Noise Filter, Gaussian Blur Filter, and the Saturation slider in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Each one can be saved in the Library Panel so different effects can be tried out quickly to decide which one looks best. Just be sure they are named so the difference between them is obvious. The one used above I named SJ Add Noise 5-Gaus .3-Desat -50 (same as pattern name) to remind me what is applied. And favorite Patterns can also saved as adjustment layers in the Library for using just on bird brushes or anything that needs this type of effect applied.

Hope you enjoyed the Pattern post – it can get a little confusing! Try out the Noise Adjustment Layer – I think I will be using mine a lot….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs
How To How To Use a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer
I Didn’t Know That! Use A Pattern Fill Layer to Add a Painted Texture
A Little Layer Style Fun
Christmas Card from Digital Lady Syd!
How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up



Image of Native American Festival BlanketsRecently I have been watching many Photoshop videos. This week I thought I would share some quick tips that I am finding to be very handy. These may be obvious things to many of you, but all of the tips below were new to me. For info on the Blankets image taken at the Native American Festival, see bottom of blog.

Add Noise to Bring an Image Together

This really works and looks nice, especially if a texture was added for a background or creating a composite. Just go to Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur and set all sliders to 0 except the Noise slider which is set to 4 and Distribution Uniform. Very subtle but nice effect.


Okay – this is something that I never knew was in Photoshop, but what a major time-saver it is (unfortunately it is not in CS6)! We all know pressing the SPACEBAR turns any tool into the Hand Tool, but did you know it can be used to also move the image around the workspace? Go to Edit ->Preferences -> Tools and check the Overscroll box. That is is! What a time saver. Now the image still stays attached as a tab, but it can be moved around to avoid panels opening in the workspace or for close up painting.

Rotate View Tool

Here is a tool I have never used much but will be. It is indispensable when trying to paint in a certain direction or draw black lines around objects. The Rotate View Tool (R) icon is hidden behind the Hand Tool in the Toolbar. Need to select it and then click on your document. A large star-shaped pointer icon appears that indicates the direction of the image – adjust by spinning the document to the angle needed. The cool thing to know is this tool has a “springboard” R key – this means that while painting, just hold down the R key and the pointer icon will appear in the image to readjust the angle, let go, and continue painting! To return image to upright, just double click on the icon or press the ESC key. It is very quick and handy to use. Try it and I bet you will like it also!

Printing Out the Steps to an Action

The individual action steps cannot be printed out, but all the actions in a set can be printed out. To do this, highlight the set that contains the action you want to see. Next hold down the ALT+CTRL keys and Open the pop-out menu in the upper right corner of the Actions panel. Do not lift up on mouse, but just scroll down the menu to Save Actions. When the explorer opens us, the file will show a .txt extension on it instead of the regular action .atn extension.  Now the action steps will be listed when file is opened. This is really handy if you are trying to figure out exactly what settings are being used or to trouble-shoot a action that is not working properly. Who knew!!!

Preparing Image for Web

A famous portrait photographer suggested this tip to use after saving your image for print. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer to image and set Black tab to 0, Midtones to 0.95, and White tab to 255, then set Output Levels sliders to 5 and 250. Will look better on the web. To create a more matte appearance, set the Black tab to 14 to flatten out the shadows.

When Scanning Old Photos – What Resolution is Needed?

If you want to make an old image into a larger size, before scanning image create a New Document to the size of 8 X 10inches at 240 pixels/inch for example. Once created, go to Image -> Image Size and in the dialog box uncheck Resample Image box and enter one of the dimension sizes of the original old photo being scanned, say 2 ½ inches into the Width field.  Photoshop will show in the Resolution field the number needed for scanning (960 pixels in this case) to make this image 8 X 10 at 240 ppi. Set scanner to 960 pixels to get the image to look right for printing. This is ingenious!

Adjusting Skin Tones That Do Not Look Quite Right

I tried this tip a couple times and it works really well. Add a new layer above a person with bad skin tone and set the blend mode to Hue. Hue shifts just the tones when used on a New Layer. Sample new skin color and paint with 100% brush opacity and a low flow of no more than 2% on skin – it warms up the skin just a little. To adjust lips, use Hue blend mode on painted lip layer. Try using the Color blend mode if Hue is too subtle. By adding a little blue tone to this layer on skin that is too yellow, the skin can look much better.

Select and Mask Command

This command (to be used once a selection has been made) seems pretty much self-explanatory, but there a few things to consider when using this dialog. Did you know that if you hold the ALT key down while pressing the Refine Edge Brush, Brush Tool or the Quick Selection Tool, it will switch between the Add (+) and Remove (-) setting. I have been trying to use the X-key and it does not work. Apparently I forgot this was used in the Refine Mask dialog box. This is a very handy tip for me.

Also, when using Output Settings, check out your image with both the Decontaminate Colors on and off – it does not always create a good result. Note that in CS6, the Refine Mask dialog box actually has a slider where the amount of decontamination can be set – I really liked this slider but they have removed it in the Select and Mask Command dialog box. If you really want to use this feature in CC 2017 just click on the layer mask or create a selection, go to Select -> SHIFT + Select and Mask and the old Refine Mask dialog opens up. Now the Decontaminate slider is available. There is a slight controversy among some Photoshop gurus as to which dialog is best. I personally like the new Select and Mask as it has many more features, just not a slider for decontamination.

Once back in Photoshop if you missed some areas while in the dialog, just duplicate both the layer and layer mask several times to build up the selection.

Merging Layers and Blend Mode Issues

Have you ever noticed that after merging layers, the blend mode goes back to Normal? If a color shift occurs after merging, this is what has happened and the blend mode probably needs to be reset.

Sometimes when creating a stamped or composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top of the Layer stack, a slight color change occurs. This has driven me crazy on several occasions! By setting the stamped layer to Color blend mode, the image colors will go back to the original underlying layer color before the layer was created. This shift seems to occur after using several blend modes and layer styles on different layers with varying the opacities. There probably are other ways to fix this, but I find this tip works pretty well.

History Log Metadata

This is one tip I have used for a long time and it has saved me when I forgot what settings I applied. Create a text History Log of every step that done on an image by going to Edit -> Preferences -> General and check the History Log and the Metadata radial button. Now when you a apply for example a Levels (not as an Adjustment Layer), the settings used can be found by going to File – > File Info and selecting the Photoshop section (History tab in CS6 at top) – a list of everything done to that image will appear. In CS6 can be exported as a .txt file, but in CC need to select all the text (CTRL+A) and paste (CTRL+V) into a text editor like Notepad. Right now some of the settings from external plug-ins will show up in the settings , but this is not working on the newer ones. For example, it currently lists Topaz Adjust actual settings, but only lists that Topaz Texture Effects 2 was used but no settings. Google Nik plugins and On1 2017 products have the preset used listed but no setting info. Also, the actual brush and settings being used will not show up, but if a Tool Preset brush is used, it is listed without its settings. That can be very helpful too. This log stays with the PSD file so you can always go back to it, unlike the actual History Panel states and snap shots.

I hope some of these tips were helpful – not real hard things to do, but just handy to know! Have a nice weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Notes on Blanket Image: I wish I knew who was selling these beautiful blankets, but I am sure most of the Native American Festivals will have them for sale. In Lightroom used Kim Klassen’s Melancholy preset to give more of a wilderness feel right from the start. Did a little adjustment brush work on the blankets. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Restyle was opened and a Cold Frosty Day preset was applied with a few corrections. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Crisp Morning Run preset was applied next, set to Color blend mode and a layer mask was opened to remove some of the effect off the birds in particular. The Blend If sliders This Layer tabs were adjusted. A clean up layer was added to remove the price tags. Two Curves Adjustment Layers were opened, set to Luminosity blend mode, and one was set for darkening the image and one to lighten – then both layer masks were inverted to black and just areas that needed more emphasis were painted back. A Spotlight Layer was created, set to Overlay blend mode at 37% layer opacity. Next Nik Viveza 2 was added to add a little focal direction to the image. A Color Balance and Levels Adjustment Layers were added. A Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was applied. French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glorious Grunge Edging was used as a border with a dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between layers) to add color to it. It was a pretty long workflow but I liked the final result. These blankets were really nice!


Vintage Image of Miss E. G. Winship in 1909 from ShorpyStill taking it easy and enjoying just learning a few new techniques and passing them along as I go. This image is from of Miss E. G. Winship (this links to the original image if you would like to try out the technique yourself) from 1909 who was a 22-year old living in Philadelphia. I have always enjoyed tinting old images so when I found a class on this on Udemy, I decided to check it out. Udemy has many classes and runs specials often where the whole course is offered for $10 or $15 (note – you do not get to download the videos but will always have access to them if purchased). This course was called Photoshop Design: Colorize Historical Photos in Photoshop by Phil Ebiner. Previously I had posted a How to Colorize an Old Photo blog which uses a similar technique as this class – using Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers to add localized color to each of the different components in your image.  This course was pretty basic, but he had one thing that really caught my attention. He showed you how to layer several different fill colors on top of each other to achieve natural looking skin, mainly to the face and a few other skin skin areas. Phil also supplied color charts to use for different skin tones if the one he suggested does not match up correctly. By being able to apply localized color to the face and parts of the skin, it gives a more accurate effect to the overall colorization. This can be very beneficial if trying to hand-tint personal scanned images. With the course information I was able to create a fairly simple Photoshop Action to set up the different colored adjustments layers for a quicker set up.

The image below was completed before the one above. I felt like the one above is the more traditional look and is probably closer to what the dress color was and possibly the skin tone. By just changing out the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers, the dress and hair color could easily be changed out. The skin and background took a little longer. Part of the problem with this image is that it is not of a very high resolution. The initial image had to be adjusted to get a nice size to work on. Some parts of the image are hs lost detail and there is not a lot that can be done. On the top image, some hand painting on the upper left bodice area with a regular brush tool to add more detail and remove some of the really dark shadows. On the one below, this was not taken.

If no info was available on the young lady or where she was from, a story could have been built into the image. That is what I attempted to do. By giving her a green toned dress, red hair, and a different skin tone, I hoped a bit of Irish flare could be given to the image. Also, Anthropics Smart Photo Editor was used to add an interesting border and vignette to the image. I forget I have this plug-in, but it contains lots of great effects including many border and vignette effects, which is one of the reasons I bought it a few years ago.

Vintage image of E. G. Winship from ShorpyAnother one of my blogs on this same subject uses a special brush to paint in the color on New Layers instead of using Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers. Sometimes it is easier to do this on a new layer if a problem comes up with the adjustment layer color or definition of a subject. (See my How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush To Do This blog.) The brush was used on a couple layers after I had finished colorizing to touch up parts that were not smooth, especially in the arms. Also the Mixer Brush was used to blend in areas where the photo was a little grainy looking on the skin. It seems like you could spend as long as you want to get the image looking really great. If the image is scanned, the resolution of the photo can be set higher and a better quality colorized image will result. If you are interested in trying out this technique, check out both my Colorize blog and this course. It is actually a lot of fun to do! Well I guess that is all for this week. Later!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of the View from Sterling Castle in ScotlandThis week I thought I would share a Vignette tip that Matt Kloskowski (one of original Photoshop Guys and one of my favorite gurus) presented in his Bonus #1 Video called The Do’s and Don’ts of Lightroom/Photoshop Workflow (BTW it is a downloadable mp4 file). This is a good overall video, but his section on creating a subtle vignette was brilliant tip. I find I am now using this all the time and it is a really easy workflow. The image above was taken from Stirling Castle in Scotland and was an incredible panoramic view of the local area. It is a good example of how subtle the effect is. This vignette should be applied at the end of own workflow after all the changes to the image have been done.

Content Aware Move and Abstract Painterly Effect

First I will share a quick tip discovered before applying the vignette The above original image took a tremendous amount of clean up as there were trucks, garbage cans, and road cones all over the place. Instead of trying to clone and spot heal over some of the larger objects (like a large truck in this image), the Content Aware Move Tool (in group with the Spot Healing Brush) was used to select and move the truck down into the trees (make sure Mode field says Move). Since the Transform on Drop was checked, the truck was reduced to a really tiny spot in the corner and could easily be removed with the Spot Healing Brush or Backspace to remove it. Of course some clean up had to be done on the original truck spot, but it was much less work to do. I found this worked better than using the Content Aware Fill command so give it a try if other methods are not working well. For a good explanation on these tools, see the Patch and Content Aware Fill Tools, see the short video Content Aware Patch and Move by Adobe’s Julieanne Kost, another great PS guru. By letting PS to do the initial work, it takes a lot less time. To get the soft painterly effect, Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used – all the Detail sliders were set to -1.00 and the Boost were set to 0 – then adjusted the Tone and Color section  sliders to get this rather abstract feel. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was added to paint  back in some detail.

Vignette Workflow

The last step was to create the Vignette:

  1. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and drag out to surround the focal point of your image. Hold down ALT key and Spacebar to move selection around the image to position.
  2. In Options Bar click on the Select and Mask button and go the Feathering slider. Depending on your photo resolution, set the feathering to blend nicely into the background. For the above a 120 px feather was used since my photo did not have that many pixels in it. For larger formats 300 px may be necessary.
  3. At this point click Invert button at the bottom of the panel and set Output to: Selection.
  4. Put selection on its own layer by pressing CTRL+J.
  5. Change the blend mode to Multiply and adjust the layer opacity (18% in the above image).

Matt explained that it looks good because the vignette is made from the photo itself rather than adding a black overlay on top of the image.

Yellow Flower with Bee taken at Harry P. Leu GardensThis image was taken at the Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Had to zoom in close to get a good look at the little “Acrobat” in the flower. The pretty golden colors was achieved using one of my favorite Lightroom presets I call TChurchwell Aging Photo (to create, view short video called Aging a Photo before Painting) and adjusting the Radial Filter to fit on the bee. In Photoshop a light beige texture by Kim Klassen (a lot of her textures are no long available – most have a soft grainy look and a few are still for sale) was added and set to Linear Light at 34% layer opacity. New layers were created for clean up, a painting to cover up distracting background objects, and the Sharpen Tool on just the bee and foreground flower.  Then a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and the Vignette workflow was followed. The vignette was set to 34% layer opacity to get this final effect. I really liked the soft feel in the whole image.

Below are what just the two vignette layer’s feathering looks like after the Multiply blend mode was applied but before the layer opacity was adjusted. (Note the white ovals are actually transparent in the PSD file so the image below shows through.) It can be as subtle as you want. The left vignette was set to 18% and the darker right image was set to 34% layer opacity as the final step.

Image of Vignette Tych
Hope you get a chance to try out this vignette effect – I think you will really like it. Matt K usually is right on with this tutorials. Have a good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd


Drawings of items on my deskThink I am having a bad case of Spring Fever this week so here is a change of pace for my blog. I have seen so many of these types of drawn objects being sold in scrapbooking kits especially. I am not the greatest at drawing, but I thought it would be fun to see if I could actually do a little of this myself.

I probably would never have tried this except a while back I was listening to one of my favorite websites, Creative Live, who was running Kate Bingaman-Burt’s Drawing the Everyday Every Day videos – Kate made this really fun to watch so I decided to try my own everyday drawings. She says you need to practice “every day” to get better at drawing, especially with the lettering (I confess I do not do this every day). The drawings do not have to be perfect and a personal flavor can be given to them which I think makes it fun to do. Both blog images were drawn on an inexpensive non-digital Sketch Pad from WalMart – supposed to be good for Pen, Pencil, Pastel and Oil Pastel. Kate says just try to create a basic theme when creating the items – they can be anything that is sitting around your home. A mechanical pencil (in image above) was used to draw for my images but Kate uses an inexpensive drawing Pen. The sketch was scanned in as a JPG file using my old scanner. In Photoshop a New Document was created and the sketch file was pasted into the document as a layer. The Select -> Color Range command was used to select just the sketching (click OK and press CTRL+J to put it on its own layer), but any way of selecting can be used. Duplicate the layer and merge down (CTRL+E) if the lines are too light – since mine were pencil this needed to be done. I placed a New Layer underneath and just used a solid hard-edged round brush to paint in the color. For the background, just painted in some pink and blue hatch texture using Just Jaimee Texture Brush Sample Brush 4 – added Color Dynamics to the brush to get the two color effect. This was really an interesting and fun project to try. Kate goes into much more detail and steps on how to do this process and does a great demonstration in her videos. Here is a link to Kate’s website so you can see how great her sketched items are.

Wild Flower DrawingsHere is another one of my crazy drawings of wild flowers. In Photoshop with the sketch layer on top (after removing background), 13 layers were added underneath to paint the flowers and text. Watercolor and Smudge brushes were used to create the painted effect in the flowers. Adding texture in the items will give more interest to the items. Several splatter brushes were also used on some of the flowers. The background texture is from Kim Klassen called MarchDuo_soTrue. This was fun to create.

It was pretty easy to do this and I was quite surprised that I could draw anything at all. Give it a try and see if you can come up with some nice items to use in your composites. Have a Happy Week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of the Waterfall at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and GardensMany people are selling some beautiful light leaks to add as overlays to your images. It occurred to me that is this is just not that difficult a thing to accomplish so this blog is about making your own light leaks quickly. Besides being great for vintage looks, many digital artists use light leaks to add more light into an image. By making the final light leak layer a PNG file, it can then be easily adjusted and placed over your other images to get a quick and perfect light leak effect. The above image of the waterfall at the entrance to the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens used two light leaks – an orange one on the left side of the image and a pink color sampled from the bright colored flowers for the upper right side.

The workflow to create a light leak is pretty easy – just follow the steps below. Once a few have been tried, it is not that hard to make several colored light leaks in the same image (as above) or add subtle pattern effects to the light leak. Even some of the regular gradients that are supplied by Photoshop or downloaded from others can be turned into light leaks with a little more manipulation. In Photoshop I started with a very basic image where the different light leak effects could be seen clearly and then added and deleted after saving.

1. First click on the foreground color swatch to open the Color Picker. Choose a foreground color that would make a nice color light leak. Reds, Yellows and Oranges look very good. Also Blues and Purples can look great too with the right image.

2. Next a Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer is opened. To find it, click on the half-moon icon (4th over) at the bottom of the Layer Panel. (Alternatively go to Layers -> New Fill Layer -> Gradient Fill.) In most cases the Linear Style gradient is used. Click on the Gradient strip in the Gradient Fill Panel to open the Gradient Editor panel – select the 2nd Gradient over, the color to transparent gradient, and click OK. Don’t worry that the color may look way overdone at this point.

  • The Angle determines how the gradient lines up on the image.
  • Change the Scale to make the leak appear larger or thinner. For example, set Scale to 385% and it looks very soft and stretched out – no defined edge; set to 25% and there is a very sharp gradient edge. There is definitely an opacity change associated with the Scale setting. The default is 100%.
  • Use the Move Tool (V) to move the gradient around in the image so it can just fill up the very low edges or cover most of the image.

By adjusting the Angle and the moving the gradient in the image, it can be placed exactly where you want it. This workflow only creates light leaks with one edge in the image instead of being a strip effect.

3. If the light leak effect is too strong, set the Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer to Screen Blend Mode in the Layers Panel.

4. To save the light leak as a PNG file, turn off the all other layers and select the Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer. There are two ways to do this. I prefer the first way as the color is more brilliant and can be adjusted easier, but it does save the light leak as a much larger file.

  • Go to Save -> Export -> Export As and set Format: PNG. Be sure Transparency box is checked. Click Export All and save file in a light leaks folder on your computer. Now the PNG file can be applied to any of your other images! I usually name mine something like SJ Orange Lower Left Light Leak.png. This choice is not available for Photoshop CS6 users.
  • Go to Save -> Export -> Layers to Files. In the dialog set the Destination to the light leaks folder, File Name Prefix should be the light leak name, check Visible Layers Only box (this is important or all the image layers will be converted to files), File Type PNG-24, and check the Transparency and Trim Layers boxes. It would be easy to combine two light leak Gradient Fill layers or one with a Pattern Fill Layer clipped by turning both layers in the Layers Panel. Fort CS6 users, go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to Files and the same dialog box appears as discussed in this paragraph.
  • Can always double click on the gradient strip in the Gradient Fill Panel and when the Gradient Editor Panel opens, Name the gradient and click the New button – then the gradient will appear at the end of the Presets for use on another image as a gradient but it is not a PNG file.

Coleus Plant at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and GardensAs noted above in Step 2 of the Basic Workflow, the light leak only has one side to it. There is a more complicated process and it is shown above on the Coleus Plant image also taken at the Gardens. To get a strip effect, it is fully explained in James Abbot’s How to Create Realistic Light Leaks in Photoshop short Tipsquirrel video. The major trick is to adjust the actual gradient strip tabs in the Gradient Editor panel. By moving the little tabs on both the upper and lower sides of the strip, clear spaces in the gradient can be created so a strip effect can be created. Then a second Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer is clipped to the original Gradient Fill Layer to set the color. I suggest you watch the video for a good explanation on how to create this effect. To me it seems like it would be easier to adjust the Light Leak in the Gradient Fill Adjustment Layer’s mask to paint with a black soft edged brush and remove parts of the leak or use the Gradient Tool on the mask to create a straight soft line.

Vintage image of the Traveler Circle Swing at Coney Island in 1905To create very simple light leaks, a Fog Brush (download the one used above at Plearn) can be used to paint a color on a New Layer where the light leak would look good. Then try different blend modes and adjust the layer opacity, or add a layer mask and paint out areas that are too strong. Very easy. Then the color layer can be saved down as a light leak layer by using Step 4 in the workflow. The Traver Circle Swing at Coney Island in 1905 (the price was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children) historic image from used a layer where an orange color was painted around the sides and top of the image and set to Vivid Light blend mode. Again this layer could have been saved as a PNG document as in Step 4 above. A border I had created a while back was added to give a little texture in the light leak areas.

I hope this info will give you an opportunity to create some of your own light leaks. These saved light leaks can be loaded into Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Texture Effects’s Light Leaks section to use in this plug-in. Give it a try and see if you like the results. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd