Anything Photoshop or Photography



Celebrating 8 Years of Blogging bird imageJust realized this weekend that I have been posting at this site for 8 years! Thought I would put up a little image I worked on this week of 3 little sparrows – they seem to be in their very colorful costumes so here they are to help me celebrate! I have to laugh when I think about my first blog – I thought I was really doing something. (See My First Post – Painted Oleander blog) Over the years it has evolved and has become something I look forward to creating. It has also been a great way to really learn Photoshop – would recommend it if you like to write. And now doing videos really steps up how to present the information and new challenges. I will continuing to add more videos over the next year. I still plan to stay on top of the new plugins and Photoshop update which I always so much fun to try out.

Actually I was practicing painting (which oddly enough my first post was painting with Mixer Brushes in CS5) – have to do this to stay good at it. Decided to brighten them up a bit to make them look a little more interesting and friendly. Basically followed my standard workflow: Paint a flat primary layer, then Highlights and Shadows layers, some fur or feather layer, blending with the Mixers and Smudge brushes layers, and last step to add in anything that needs to be done to finish up the image. The background is one I painted in Corel Painter. The balloon from hanging air balloon free mock up is from Deal Jumbo and used Gavtrain’s Instant Confetti Action. Applied a speech blurb and a couple text layers. That was it.

Hope everyone is still enjoying my blogs and finding them useful when needed. It has been so much fun to share all the great Photoshop techniques I have learned over the years. Hopefully I will still be blogging for another 8 years!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of meadow mushroom with heavy texture added

This is a repost of a blog I did way back in 2013, but it is something I have not seen anyone post recently (or ever for that matter) and I think it is a pretty cool technique. Mainly, you can select all the whites (or darks or both) in an image by going into the Layer Style Blend If panel and setting the tabs to the amount you want removed. Then, a layer is created with those tones removed permanently. It is a great way to just remove white quickly – faster than Color Range and more flexible since you can choose precisely what tones should be removed. Also, more layer styles can be applied to this layer and more Blend If sliders. Some really interesting effects can be created. I created a really short video below to show you how easy it is to do this.

Now to continue with my original blog below for more explanation and the workflow steps.

It seems like I have been using these Blend If sliders a lot recently. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) For this blog I used a little known tip from the brilliant Ben Wilmore who explained a while back how to apply the blend-if sliders permanently (see his Photoshop Mastery: Retouching and Collage videos – this is a great course on CreativeLive BTW). Probably the first question is why would you want to do this? Firstly, it is one of the easiest ways to remove the white (or black) pixels from an image. It is a simple way to indirectly select and turn transparent the white or black pixels in a the background or complicated image areas for creating collages or adding textures. And secondly, it is a way to add texture to an image without it covering up all parts of the image – it keeps lines sharp as shown in the last image. This can be a major problem when adding textures.

Here is a quick reminder of what the Blend If sliders do. Double click on the layer to open up the dialog box shown below. By moving the This Layer white tab to the left, all the corresponding white tones (as seen in the black to white strip) to the right of the tab are removed from the the image and turned clear or transparent in the layer. For example if you moved the white tab left to 159, all the white pixels between the 159 and the 255 tone values will be removed. If you further split the tab (ALT+drag on tab to split) to say 124, then the gray tone pixel values between 124 and 159 will be partially deleted. The rest of the tone values will stay the same. These numbers correspond to the same values that are very visible under the histogram in the Levels Adjustment Layer – same concept here. See the screenshot below demonstrating the Blend If Slider dialog box info.
Screenshot of Blending Options dialog box and Blend If Slider SettingsThe individual Layer Style Blending Options on the left side can be applied by going to Layer -> Layer Style -> Create Layers. Each effect is lined up and clipped to the original layer so they only affect that layer. But when just the Blend If Sliders are changed, the Create Layers option is grayed out or ignored if some affects are checked on the left. Layer Styles cannot be Rasterized into one layer like Smart Object or Text layers. So here is the tip on how to apply those Blend If Slider settings and all other affects checked into one layer. Once you have the Blend If Sliders set up the way you like (and the Blending Options wanted checked), duplicate this layer. Next Create a New Layer Underneath the duplicate layer. Highlight the top layer and press CTRL+E or right click and select Merge Down. Voila! the layer is now free of its layer style limitations and shows an image with transparent areas that correspond to the deleted pixels. The workflow below goes into more detail.

On the resulting layer, textures can be added under this layer, the layer can be set to different blend modes and opacities, and new Layer Styles options can be added. My workflows below show how I achieved the results in the images in this blog. You are not limited to just the Blend If Gray channel (which is equivalent to the RGB channel), but in the drop down the Blue, Green and Yellow channels can be used alone or together to get some different results. Ben says to look at these channels if there is a big difference in colors in your image such as a blue sky and a green foreground. Also by selecting the resulting image layer (CTRL+click on the layer thumbnail) and adding a layer mask to the original layer or to a texture, some more very interesting effects can be created easily – and without a lot of hand-selection going on, which I always like.

Workflow For Using Blend If Sliders to Remove White From a Texture

1. Open up the texture and duplicate Background layer.

2. Add a New Layer between the two texture layers and fill with a bright colored color., or can add a Solid Color Adjustment Layer attached to the New Layer (can then adjust to any color easier). This is so you can tell if you are getting the right effect with your slider adjustments and can be deleted when finished with the effects.

3. Take the top texture layer and make the tab slider adjustments to get rid of the white areas. In my image the white tab on This Layer was set to 124/159. (See screenshot above.) If you want to remove black, just move and split the black tab, and if you want both black and white removed, use both tabs.

4. Duplicate top layer with settings.

5. Create a New Layer underneath the top duplicated layer and leave it blank.

6. Highlight the top texture layer and merge it down by clicking CTRL+E or right click and selecting Merge Down now there is only one layer which contains image with Layer Style including Blend If settings applied.

The texture overlay applied to the Meadow Mushroom image above used Melissa Gallo Texture Taupe Canvas texture, The screenshot below shows the blue layer that lets me see what parts of the texture is still there and what were removed. Notice that I got a white result – this was done by following the workflow steps above and changing the black tab to a split 157/237 (instead of the white tab) – just a little of the colored tone highlights showed up and the darker areas were deleted.

Screenshot of texture added to mushroom image

You now have a basic overlay layer with just the parts you want from the texture or image. This layer can be added into another image (highlight layer, CTRL+A to Select All, CTRL+C to copy, and go to other document and CTRL+V to paste into new image) or saved as an overlay PNG file. (Turn off all layers but this one and go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to File and save in a 24-PNG format and add to your textures and overlay files.) To get some different results, try selecting this layer by CTRL+clicking on thumbnail and adding a Layer Mask to another layer. More Blend If slider settings can be applied to the result. There are all kinds of options. Try inverting the Layer Mask (CTRL+I on Layer Mask) to see how it might look on different backgrounds.You can now get really nice embossing on the edges as shown in the image above. And you can save different versions using the same texture.

Remember that if you are getting some color shifts on composite (merged layer using all the layers underneath – CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) after using the Blend If Sliders on a layer, the work-around is to just set the Fill Opacity to 0% on the composite layer. Also another little thing I noticed is that if one of the check boxes for Channels R, G, or B is unchecked, you get some really odd color shifts when you merge the layer down so don’t mess with these unless you like the results. Also, don’t get discouraged if it does not work out on the image you are trying it on – it does not work for all images.

Using Blend If Sliders to Remove White in Image to Let Texture Show Through

Image of Belarusian Countryside using Blend If sliders on textureThis image was one I used in a previous blog (see my Flickr Image for original). Just showing you a slightly different way of doing what was done to the texture example above. I decided to remove the white in the original image using the Blend If sliders and to place a texture under the resulting transparent layer to add a painterly look. The same workflow as above was used – this time it was used on the image instead of a texture and of course it is not saved down as a PNG file (unless you wanted to use it that way). I really liked the how the texture showed through the transparent areas in this image. Basically by converting the RAW file to a pretty monochromatic (see my Get Great Results with Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz ReStyle Together!! blog) image and then removing the whites, the texture shows through very nicely.

You can paint more in the Layer Mask using different brush opacities to hide more or less of the underlying texture that you added. You can also add another Layer Style to the layer that contains the transparent image. All kinds of possibilities are present including changing the blend modes.
Here is another image that uses the same workflow steps as the Belarusian Countryside image. In this case the image was turned into a sepia tone in Lightroom before opening in Photoshop. Three textures were combined to get this effect after creating a layer mask of everything except the sky basically. The This Layer Blend If settings in this case were split Black tab 56/78 and White tab 102/161. As you can see, quite a few black tones and white tones were removed from this image. I really liked the final result which added a lot of texture throughout the image without covering up the actual details in the image. (See Image 3 for more info on settings.)
Image of the London Eye with texture addedThis is such a great way to get some wonderful and unique effects that can be reused on other images. The reason this is major cool is that you can add layer styles to these resulting layers and even more Blend If sliders. And it really is not that hard once you try it a couple of times. It seems we are always looking for ways to add something just a little different to our images and this may be one to keep in your arsenal just for that purpose. And it is so much fun to try on different images – and that is what it is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer blog


Image 1: This is another shot of a large Meadow Mushroom that appeared in my yard recently. In Photoshop the image was processed in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 where the B/W Conversion filter was set to Dynamic Control and an opacity of 56%; Film Efex/Vintage was set to Film Type 11 and 85% opacity; and Bi-Color Filters set to Color Set 3 with a control point placed on a mushroom at 39% opacity and an overall opacity of 20%. Next French Kiss Collections Artiste May Roses texture was applied. The mushrooms were lightly painted out in a layer mask. A New Layer was added where I added a little white cloud in the upper right of image at 89% layer opacity. Next Painted Textures Taupe Canvas was added to image – but I used the one created from the texture with the white removed from the texture and inverted. It was set to a Difference blend mode and a pink Solid Color Fill Layer was added to turn the remaining texture to a pinkish color. The Blend Mode made the color actually look dark blue which I really liked. A Bevel and Emboss Layer Style Effect was added to the layer. Some of this effect was removed from the mushroom with a layer mask. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) . The background was darkened and the mushroom brightened.

Image 2: For this image, French Kiss Collection Tableaux WindSong 2z was applied on top. Next the composite layer (which was the charcoal image posted previously) was duplicated and the Layer Style opened up. This Layer Blend If White tab was split and set to 102/184 and in the Underlying Layer the Black tab was split and set to 191/194. Since this image had the texture underneath, the Underlying Layer tabs could also be manipulated. The Blend Mode was set to Vivid Light. A Brightness/Contrast layer was added with no settings and set to Multiply at 28% layer opacity – to darken image just slightly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added next to add contrast to the midtones and darker areas. The Blend If layer was duplicated and placed above – a blank New Layer was set underneath – then the layers were merged together to apply the Blend If sliders to make transparent some of the white and black tonal areas. A selection was made by CTRL+clicking on the thumbnail and adding a Layer Mask to the original Blend If layer. Since all this did was select the structures, and I wanted the transparent areas preset, it was inverted by clicking CTRL+I in the Layer Mask so the texture will show through this layer. A white border was created using Photoshop’s Natural Brush Spray 41 pixels in a white color to create the white edging. Another Curves Adjustment Layer was added just for brightening up the image to emphasize the white a little more. A composite layer was added on top and the Fill Opacity was set to 0% to reduce the color shift.

Image 3: As described above, a sepia tone preset was used on this image in Lightroom. Painted Textures Confetti texture was set to 12% on top of the original image. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Benoit texture (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was added at 12% opacity also. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and clipped to the top texture and set to Hue 57 and Saturation 12. Next the original background layer was duplicated and placed on top where the Blend If sliders were set as described above. The steps were followed with the a duplicate copy merged down, a selection created, and a Layer Mask added to the layer above the textures and to the Confetti texture. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and contrast was added by pulling down on the curve. Next 2 Lil’ Owls Light It Up Mini Set 1 texture was added and set to Color Burn blend mode. French Kiss Collections free Glorious Grunge Edging was added and the Color Fill Layer was clipped to the edging and set to a light yellow. On a composite on top, the Fill Opacity had to be set to 0% to stop the color shift.


Image of Snowy Egret during mating seasonJust popping in with a couple images of one of my favorite subjects, birds! Been busy taking a few on-line painting and photography classes and trying to get a little time to try out some new things. Both these images (which are not painted) were improved by following some of the techniques of one of the best wildlife photographers, Moose Peterson. He is just one of the many people who have created some really great classes on KelbyOne. Moose also has a great blog (if you check out his latest blog, he is talking about something I am super-excited about – an update to the Nik plug-ins! – Yeah!!!) and website with lots of good information to improve your photography. Anyway, his classes are just really good and easy to follow and not all that complicated.

Lightroom and ACR Sharpening’s Masking Slider Tip

The snowy egret above was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm rookery. They are one of my very favorite birds to photograph because of their beautiful feathers they spread during the mating season. One thing I did learn from Moose (in The Secrets to Creating Super Sharp Images class) is how to properly use the Masking slider in the Detail Sharpening section in Lightroom (and ACR). Look at your subject and only sharpen for your subject, and as little of everything else. By holding down the ALT key and moving the Masking slider, many different thicknesses of white lines will appear in the black mask. The white thick lines will indicate the “plane of focus” and should be around the subject and any other areas in the same plane. (This is also a great way to find out if you actually did get what you wanted as the main focus of your image.) The smaller lines are not as important. Now the Amount can be increased to sharpen the image correctly.

Most of the post-processing was done in Lightroom using the Adjustment Brush and Radial Filter to sharpen the bird up and darken the background down. In Photoshop a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Foggy Night preset (my personal favorite) set to 9% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added next and in Master, the Saturation was increased to +38. The layer mask was filled with black and only parts of the birds body was lightly painted back. Two Curves Adjustment Layers were added and set to Luminosity blend mode for Dodging and Burning (see my How to use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog). Then just a couple layers set to Overlay blend mode  were added to even out a few of the lights and darks in the foreground and background areas. Ended up with just the standard frame around the image (see my How to Create a Quick Layer Style Border or Frame blog.)
Image of three Snowy Egret chicksFor this image of baby Snowy Egrets one of the new LR (and ACR) Black and White profiles called B&W Blue Filter was applied, and 4 graduated filters set to Exposure -1.00 were placed around the birds to darken down the edges. Just a few Basic sliders were adjusted a little, mainly Highlights Shadows, Whites and Vibrance. A Dodge and Burn 50% gray layer was used to sharpen up the little guys a bit. Used a Level Adjustment Layer to bring back the background into focus just a little.

Film Grain Effect

I wanted to give the B&W image a little softer feel so a Grain Layer was added. This is a tip from an older KelbyOne class by Katrin Eismann (another brilliant Photoshop guru) called Color to Black and White Artistry but the basic concepts are still current. Using this method gives a really natural subtle result to the image and adds the effect in the areas you want it, mainly the Blue and Green channels, and leaves the Red Channel alone where usually the subject resides. The film grain is added in a very natural way so that the Blue Channel gets the greatest amount of noise, Green channel less, and Red Channel the lowest amount. The steps are as follows:

  • Go to the Channel Panel. Note that all Channels have the Add Noise Filter set to Gaussian and Monochromatic.

Highlight Red Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 4%

Highlight Green Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 6%

Highlight Blue Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 8%

  • Next Highlight each channel and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius Amount to 0.3%
  • In the Layer Panel, change the blend mode to Luminosity so any color noise is reduced. Can also adjust the layer opacity if the effect is too much.

I actually put these steps into a simple action that works great. Well that’s it for this week. Be popping in again soon!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Street in Edinburgh, Scotland, at nightThought I would pop in with this short little blog. Had some fun this week working on a daytime to nighttime image of a street in Edinburgh, Scotland. I had really never found a technique that looked completely realistic. Colin Smith at Photoshop Cafe has a video called How to Turn Day into Night in Photoshop in 3 Easy Steps that really gave a nice finished night effect. He goes beyond just changing the brightness of the image and gives some tips on how to make the lighting look very realistic.  It was a lot of fun to create the sky – used four different items : original sky from Texture Mate 9 (missing a link for  this) at 100% layer opacity, then the next three are all from Design Cuts – Space Watercolor Backgrounds Artistmef 3 at 19% opacity, Polarity Space Backgrounds by Skybox Creative using Deep Blue Universe (these look really good in any sky images to add just a hint of clouds in the sky at low opacity) at 11% layer opacity, and Feingold Shop Vintage Moon 4. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added in the group and set to the Moonlight preset at 79% layer opacity. Then followed Colin’s technique to light the windows and make it all look natural. It is not really that hard, and he explains it very clearly. Below is the original image brought in from Lightroom.

Original Edinburgh Street image
Well, hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of the hot summer season. I love the warm weather!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a quiet cove at Spanish Cay in the BahamasThis week I am just going to share a few simple border techniques I have used for years. Many people do not realize how easy it is to create these to finish off an image. Both Topaz and On1 (for websites, see sidebars at my Tidbits Blog) have some great frame filters for doing this, but sometimes you just want to finish off an image with a quick border. Photoshop’s layer styles dialog box is a great place to do this. Both plain color, pattern, and some with a bevel effect can easily be created. The image above was taken at Spanish Cay in the Bahamas. For post processing info, see Image 1 at end of blog.

Basically the process involves opening up some of the Effects in the Layer Style dialog box and just changing the settings to get something you like. I find that the Inner Glow and Inner Shadow work best for my borders, but often the Stroke effect is used also. (Settings for above are: Inner Shadow: Blend Mode Normal, Tan color swatch, Opacity 100, Angle 135 and no Use Global Light, Distance 0, Choke 67, Size 54, regular Contour map, no Anti-aliased, Noise 0; and Inner Glow: Normal, Opacity 100%, Noise 0, Swatch purple, Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 99%, Size 57 pixels, Contour Map 5th one to right, Range 100 and Jitter 0). The following slider information is mostly from The Photoshop Wow! book referenced below.

Settings for Both Inner Glow and Inner Settings

Size determines the amount of blur applied to the border. The greater the size, the more the Glow or Shadow is blurred so at a higher setting, it is more diffuse – thinner and spreads out more.

Increasing Choke makes the effect more concentrated – it controls the transition made from dense to transparent as set by the Size (in the Outer effects, the spread slider does the same thing). Set the Choke high, and it gives very sharp edges and set it lower to get a soft blended look.

Contour settings remap the intermediate tones that are created by the blur used to make a Shadow or Glow. Using the default 45 degree straight contour causes the blur to thin out more as it goes from outside to inside. By changing the Contour in the drop-down, different types of effects can be obtained. These can be fun so definitely try them out!

Inner Glow Settings

The only sliders I look at here are the Opacity, Color Swatch, Choke, Size and sometimes the Contour, changing to a drop-down choice. Try changing to the 2nd Contour map and you will see a thin line created inside the edge of your image for a nice single line effect.

A Glow effect is usually light and radiates evenly in all directions. Therefore a Glow has a Gradient choice in the dialog box. I have not used this but it appears that a change in blend mode would be needed to look good.

I set the Technique to Softer – I do not see much difference in my thin borders when it is set to Precise but there is a difference if the frame is larger.

There are no Distance or Angle settings for Glow effects.

Set the Source to Edge (which I always use for a border) to radiate Glow from the edge getting thinner as it moves further away. Set the Source to Center for some artistic looks that radiate color from the center outward, getting thinner as it moves away.

FYI: For use with the Contour drop-down, Range determines which part of the gradient is used for the Glow and Jitter mixes up the pixels in the gradient for less defined transitions.

Inner Shadow Settings

A Shadow effect is dark and can be offset while here Shadows only have a color swatch.

There is an Angle field showing where the light source is. If the Distance is set to 0, this does not matter what the setting is. If there is a Distance amount, then adjust it and try clicking use Global Light to set with the other effects – but make sure you like how it looks.

When using Contour map, Noise helps prevent any banding, but may help when printing. I do not use this setting for frames.

Stroke Settings

A basic large Size set to Position Inside and Fill Type Color gives a nice solid color effect. I have done this several times. This can be combined with the other two effects above for some more different looks.

For a different look set a fairly large Size and set to Inside. Then go to Fill Type and choose Gradient. The same Gradient Styles are in the drop-down and also one that only appears in this dialog – the Shape Burst gradient (it can create a neon effect, an inline-outline effect for text or a multi-color glow outer edge effect). Who knew? I demonstrate this effect in my video.

Also the Stroke effect is really good for adding a pattern effect as a border. If you have a texture you would like to use as a border, first open the texture in Photoshop and go to Edit -> Define Pattern – just name it and it appears at the bottom of your pattern list. Set a fairly large Size (like 200 px) and set to Inside. Go into the Fill Type and change to Pattern. Open drop-down and at bottom is the new pattern from the texture. This can create some really looks. Combine this with the other two effects above for more looks.

Below is a quick video just showing how to do this – it seems to be easier to look at it than read about it. If you do not see the video link in your RSS feed, please open up blog and click through.

Image of a Scottish Church with a viewIn the image above, a very nice basic layer style was applied to get this frame. For post-processing info, see Image 2 below. This image used the same basic Effects in the Layer Styles Panel: First added an Inner Glow (set to Normal blend mode and black color, Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 100%, Size pixels); next the Inner Shadow (set to Normal, a peach orange color, Angle 135, Distance 0, Choke 44%, and Size 54 pixels); and finally a Stroke (Size 2 pixels, Position Inside, Blend Mode Normal, Opacity 100%, Fill Type Color, and Color Black). Pretty simple settings and easy to adjust – change the sizes and colors in the Inner Glow and Inner Shadow effects for a different look.

Image of a herd of African Antelopes
The African Antelope image uses one of the Star Burst gradients in the Stroke Effect. This border was created using a Stroke Layer Style and setting the Size t0 49 pixels, Position Inside, Blend Mode Normal, Opacity 100%, Fill Type Gradient using Gold Sepia (in Photoshop Toning Gradient set), Style Sharp Burst with Align with Layer checked, Angle 89, Scale 100%. If you like the result of the style, click New Style and name it. It will appear at the bottom of the canned Layer Styles when you click on the section labeled Styles at the top of the Effects list. I actually changed the color from a blue to a green for the inside color by going into the gradient and changing the 2nd from the right tab to a sampled green color. For info on how this image was post-processed, see Image 3 below.

I have some canned layer styles for download free at my DeviantArt site – then just change the colors of the Inner Shadow by clicking on the color swatch and sampling a color in the image. These work great as a starting point. Last week I added a layer style to my image using the same style as in the top image except instead of a tan color, it was a brownish gray color (see my How to Create Profiles in ACR from LR Presets and Some LUT Files blog).

The best reference for layer styles is from one of my favorite Photoshop Gurus, Jack Davis, and Linnea Dayton who created a little gem of a book called Adobe Photoshop 7 One-Click Wow! book. This book covered everything I needed to know about layer styles. Also Linnea Dayton and Cristen Gillespie co-wrote the older but still fabulous The Photoshop Wow! books which go into great detail on everything to do with layer styles.

I hope you get a chance to try this out – it can really give an image a very finished look. Until next time, have a good one…..Digital Lady Syd

Post Processing Information:

Image 1: This image was taken on a relatively deserted island in the Bahamas called Spanish Cay. There were many little hidden coves and beaches. The birds were added using a low res free stock photo and selecting just the birds with Color Range. Opened up Topaz Studio and followed steps in a Topaz video called Creating Imagery Driven by Imagination with Topaz Studio Creating Imagery Driven by Imagination with Topaz Studio. (Actual settings: Impression Adj: used the settings from Shannon Rose and saved a custom preset called SJ Acryllic Painting by Shannon Rose preset (see Lovely-pg. 18); Add mask to mask just the body of one bird and the heads of the others; AI ReMix Adj: used the Pasture (Row 3/Col 2) and set it to Opacity 0.37 and Color blend mode – applied layer mask to area in water with little island that was already muddy looking – also mask out odd color in the birds, esp the wings; HSL Color Tuning: Overall Hue 0.19 and Lightness 0.19, Orange Sat 0.37, Yellow Sat 0.37, Green Hue -0.32 and Sat -0.36, and Blue Sat -0.57, Details 0.26, Suppress Artifacts 0.08 and Color Sensitivity 0.28 – used same mask as in AI ReMix adj and Opacity 0.72; Color Theme: set to Normal blend mode, used same mask inverted to just affect the muddy water and turned it slightly bluish – changed the 3rd icon to #498727 (Lightness 0.53), 4th icon to #8ba9c7 (Lightness 0.83) and 5th icon to #e8e8e8 (Lightness 0.91); and added Second Color Theme Adj: Changed first icon to #422c16 at Lightness 0.26.) A Dodge and Burn 50% gray layer was added. Also a Color Dodge lighting layer was applied (see Digital Painting Blending Modes: 3 Easy Ways to Color Artwork by David Belliveau). Last step was a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and applied the above listed Layer Style settings.

Image 2: This image of a Scottish Church had a most beautiful view. On1 Photo Raw 2018’s Effects using Dynamic Contrast and Sharpen filters was used first on the image. A Color Lookup Table using the Candlelight preset was added and set to 76% layer opacity. The Warming Filter (85) was added and set to 51% Density and set to Multiply blend mode and 77% layer opacity. Then some clean up and spotlight effect on the buildings. There was a lot of window reflection in this image, so it took a lot of clean up. A Color Dodge layer was used to light up the sky a bit. A Lighten-Darken 50% gray layer was used to add some contrast. Last step adding the layer style to a stamped layer on top with settings listed above.

Image 3: This image is from a packet I recently bought from Deal Jumbo in a set called Amazing Wild Animals 2 from images taken at South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. This is a group of Red Hartebeest African Antelope. On1 Photo Raw 2018’s Effects using Dynamic Contrast and Sharpen filters was used first on the image. Next, one of my new favorite filters called Topaz AI ReMix was applied (Settings:  AI ReMix Adj: Opacity 0.78, Luminosity blend mode, Style Strength High, Row 2/Col 2 swatch, Brightness 0, Contrast 1.00, Sat 0.75, Hue 0, and in mask painted out the animals lightly and more so in some of the white flower foreground; HSL Color Tuning Adj: Opacity 0.58, Orange Hue 0.10, Sat 0.02, and Lightness 0.73; Dehaze Adj: Opacity 0.62, Strength 0.54; Impression Adj: Opacity 0.71, default settings painted out the animals using an 0.58 Mask Transparency). Nik Viveza 2 was used to direct the focus of the image. A Black & White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer were added. The last step involved create a stamped layer on top and adding the Layer Style as described above.


Image of beautiful gold colored fonts Just popping in to do a quick blog on having fun with text. Recently I blogged about using a word(s) created from interesting fonts to make brushes or PNG files for graphic projects. Sometimes it is fun to just create using all the beautiful digital fonts available. (See my Enjoying Some Spring Butterflies blog.) This week I ran across a couple quick and easy ways to add a really nice bling look to your fonts.

PSD File

The image above was created using a very sophisticated Photoshop file that contains lots of Smart Objects to create most of this final result. The file is called Free 3D Gold Text Effects by Alifuwork. The file comes with a font Smart Object layer and three groups – Effects, 3D Gold which contains all the layer styles with smart objects (all the same smart object so when the top Text Here layer smart object is updated, all the others update with it), and Backgrounds which contains all the lighting effects and background color. So by double clicking on the Text Here layer to open the main Smart Object, the fonts can be changed to different ones easily – just click CTRL+S to save the resulting PSB document and it all update in the PSD file. This was really a great way to add the gold lettering effect without having to do a lot of work.

Layer Styles (Patterns)

To get the other nice gold effect on the above image, a really wonderful pack called Gold Foils 7th Avenue Design Textures was used – it contains 20 different gold jpg files to choose from – I only loaded my 6 favorite which included the gold 9 as patterns. Just open the JPG file and go to Edit -> Define Pattern. The pattern will appear at the bottom of your list to use with PS’s various adjustment layers, brushes, layer styles, or tools that use patterns. Major cool! So add in your favorite texture effects for sure. In the image above, Pattern 9 gold was used several times. The bird image below used the gold glitter texture created from my How to Create a Glitter Texture video and blog, where the texture was saved as a pattern, just like with the gold images from the Foil Pack. To change the color to a gold, the glitter texture was opened, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer added setting the Hue to something like 57 and Saturation to 100. Next a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to accentuate some of the lights and darks. Finally go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Now a personal gold glitter pattern can be used in your projects. If you want a silver one, use the Black and White Adjustment Layer instead of the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Very easy.

Photo details for above image are as follows: The fonts used above are: Rich were Buffalo Inline 2 Grunge, Lucious was Points and Lines, “and” was Castile Inline Grunge, and Expensive was Alex Brush. I added a new group in my file called Background Elements that was placed just above the Background group. There was a layer with just a glitter look behind the text and was created using Grut’s Charcoal Shin Ding brush (free brush for this week) set with two layer styles – a Pattern Overlay using the Gold 9 pattern set to Scale of 85% and a Stroke using a Size of 18, Inside, and Fill Type Pattern using Pattern 9 again – the whole layer was set to 80%. The object on the upper left from 2 Lil’ Owls Studio (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) All New Textures/vintage frames 2/frame 25 using the same layer styles and pattern, but the Pattern Overlay was set to 59% opacity and the Stroke was set to Size 7, Blend Mode Screen. The leaf on the upper right was from Ginko Textured Watercolor Graphics by Paperly Studio/elements 13 with same layer styles. The Pattern Overlay was set to 60% opacity and the Stroke set to Size 7 and Opacity 93%. In the Backgrounds group the Color Fill was changed to a green color. For the last step, a stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and yet another Stroke layer style was added using Size 7, Inside, Screen blend mode, Fill Type Pattern using the same pattern 09.

Graphic image of a white heron and some textThis image used my gold glitter pattern in the Pattern Overlay layer style set to Size 18 and Scale 47. The White Heron was from Graphics Fairy, the background texture was from French Kiss Artiste Bold Brush2 (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link), filter used was Topaz Studio (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) AI ReMix SJ Graphic Design Effect preset, and the font was Mr. Grieves.

Hope you enjoyed the gold extravaganza!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Malaysian Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooMy blog last week was a really technical one so this week I am going to talk about how to make eyes pop in an image. I have been so confused by the various techniques I see. Therefore I decided to try out a bunch of them – in fact I tried out 17 different methods, and I am sure there are many more out there. Some were older techniques and some newer, some are for images with good looking eyes to start with and some have no details and need more work. But overall there are many, many choices. This blog directs you to just a few of these techniques I considered to be the best. Since I am not a portrait retoucher, these are just the ones I would use on my personal work. The tiger above used the Exposure Adjustment Layer described below with a Sharpen Tool layer.

The main image I used for trying all these different techniques is one by Morgan McDonald at Unsplash called Portrait of a Young Lady – I just love this image, but the eyes are totally dark without obvious details so I thought it would make a good image to use. I am really not sure what color her original eye color is so different colors were used in the examples. The other image is a portrait of a family member who has beautiful brown eyes. I am finding most people have brown eyes which seem to be harder to enhance. Also, I tend to put all the eye layers in a group so they can be turned off and on and reduced in strength easier. So here we go:

The Best Overall Eye Sharpening Techniques

  • Exposure Adjustment Layer technique. I have been using this technique by Calvin Hollywood (a famous German Photographer and Photoshop expert) for a long time. It is by far the easiest and gives the best results for just a regular image with eyes that are relatively bright and sharp. It takes just a couple minutes to do, but is not so good on darker eyes. Just select the eye irises – I like to use the Quick Mask to select eyes since it is such a small area – make sure the brush opacity is at 100% and just press Q, paint in the eyes with the overlay color, and press Q to show the dotted line selection. Then choose the Exposure Adjustment Layer and the eyes will appear as white in a black layer mask. Now adjust the Exposure slider (equal to the Highlights in the eye), Offset (equal to Midtones), and Gama Correction (Shadows) to get a nice look. See my blog called How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop for more info on this. To sharpen the eyes even a little more, add a New Blank Layer on top; then select the Sharpen Tool set to 30% Strength and paint over the irises. Below this subtle effect can be seen mainly in the overall brightness of the eye and eye color.

Image of Exposure Adjustment Layer example

  • Shadow & Highlights technique. This one surprised me as being this good! The tip is from Lindsay Adler, a famous photographer and retoucher, from a no longer available Scott Kelby Nappathon You Tube. It is very simple to do: Select the eyes and place them on a new layer (CTRL+J) like in first technique. Need to convert layer to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select in menu) so it can be adjusted later if needed. Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Shadows & Highlights command and set only Highlights amount set to around 70 for brown eyes and only the Shadows to 59 for blue eyes. If more of a color enhancement is needed, clip (press the first icon at bottom of adjustment layer) a Hue/Saturation  Adjustment Layer to the eye layer so only the eyes are affected in the image. Set to Colorize and add more color into iris if needed. This is a great way to change the brown eyes to blue or vice versa. Can add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add more contrast or use Gaussian Blur if too sharp. For the blonde, only the Shadows and Highlights command was needed and it really made her eyes pop. For the darker eye image, a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was needed and clipped on top (ALT+click between layers to clip) but it does not look bad. There are other methods that will work better for on them.

Example of Shadows & Highlights results

  • Selective Color Adjustment Layer technique. Another surprise here and very easy to do – tip from KelbyOne‘s 100 Top Tips Magazine from a couple years ago. Select Eyes (I used the Quick Mask Tool as described above) and exclude the pupils. Load a Selective Color Adjustment Layer which puts the selection in the mask and everything else is blacked out. Change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and then adjust the intensity of the effect with a layer mask. In the Selective Color panel, set the Colors to Neutrals in the drop-down and just adjust the sliders. Very simple. I added a New Layer for the Sharpen Tool at 30% Strength and Sample All Layer checked to bring out the sharpness a little on both images. I found this technique does not work quite as well on the darker eyes, but still worked okay. For the blonde, the detail was just a little less striking than the Shadow & Highlights technique, but it was pretty close so I am not showing it. I would not hesitate to use this technique on an image.

The Best Techniques for Eyes with No Details

These are for the not bright and clean eye images. The second technique looked very good on the blonde image also, but helped the dark eye image much more, so I placed it here.

  • Zoom Noise Eyes Effects: Glyn Dewis, one my favorite Photoshop experts out of Britain, recently created a really good video called It’s All about the Eye – 3 Photoshop Techniques where he presented this technique and it  worked great on the dark eyed image. As you could see, the dark eyes have very little detail so it really needs to be created in the eyes. I thought this technique is totally ingenious. You can get all the steps in the video – he even tells you where in the video this technique starts – so if you are interested, check it out. It involves using the Radial Blur filter in PS. I found this technique had to be done twice, once for each eye, to look right. On the image below, the detail was so sharp that a Gaussian Blur filter set to 1 pixel was used to soften the lines a little. I was totally astonished at how natural this looks

Image of Eyes with detail added

    • Curves Adjustment Layers technique. Check out this older B&W Photography Class on Udemy by David Nightingale that is really good called The Art of Black and White Photography-Enhancing Your Subject’s Eyes – it can be found usually for $10 and has 6 hours of instruction. This may be the best Black and White Eye brightening technique that also works on color images. Basically the technique uses one Curves Adjustment Layer to over-lighten the image, then painting back the eyes in a black layer mask and using a low opacity brush to paint a little lightness around the eyes. Then select just the eyes and open a second Curves Adjustment Layer to add contrast back into the eyes (layer mask will be black and eyes will be white in mask). Can further add color back into the eyes by clipping a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to the top Curves Adjustment Layer and adjusting the sliders. An easier way is to add the color is to choose the Green Channel in the RGB drop-down menu and pull up and left on the curve – the eyes turn green! Change to the Blue Channel and hover over the eye in the image with the Target Adjustment Layer (TAT) on upper left side of Curves Panel – see where the dot shows up on curve and pull up from there.  To get the eyes Brown both the Red Channels and Blue Channels had to manipulated and it does not look as good. The eyes set to a green color using this method is extremely striking I think – I may have over-killed this effect a bit.

Curves Adjustment Layers example

More Sharpening Techniques

  • A different popular technique which is similar to the above involves adding two Curves Adjustment Layers and just changing the blend modes to Screen for the irises and Multiply for the pupils. Adjust the layer opacities afterwards. On some images this works just great.
  • On a New Layer try painting in white on top of the irises – then set the layer to Overlay blend mode – duplicate it if not bright enough and reduce the top layer opacity.
  • Another technique is applying the Dodge Tool on a duplicate layer of the image – just paint in the irises using 12% Strength and Midtones. Adjust the layer opacities as needed. This technique did not work at all on the darker eye image.
  • Several experts think the fairly recently improved Sharpen Tool set to a Strength of 30% and Sample All Layers now works really good for eye sharpening.
  • Try using the Unsharp Filter with the Amount around 100 and Threshold set to 3 and apply it several times – then use a black layer mask and paint back the sharpness to what is needed.

Just remember that you can do several things with these different techniques. Try applying two different methods if needed. Put a New Blank Layer on top of the eyes and use the Sharpen Tool to get an even better look sometimes. Try adding a different Adjustment Layer on top of a single layer group and see what it does. Use the Blend If sliders in the layer styles.

My bottom line – I will continue to use the Exposure Adjustment Layer as it really ranks right up there as the best around. Definitely will use David Nightingale’s technique on black and white images and sometimes on regular ones if the image needs a little lightening lift around the eyes. For dark eyes with little detail, definitely try the Zoom Noise Eyes Effect first. I know there are several techniques I have missed but this seems to be a pretty large batch. I hope this will help you next time you get stuck with the eyes in an image. Maybe one of the techniques will work when another does not.

Try putting some of these techniques to use on one of your images and see which one you like best. I was pretty surprised that the one I had been using all along was the best for me. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd