This week I am just going to give you a few of my favorite plugins that I think are worth checking out if you are interested in purchasing a few on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. I am a huge filter (plugin) fan and these are all ones I own and use a lot or I would not waste your time. The image above is the final after adding several of the filters below.
Topaz Sharpen AI
Hands down in my mind is Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI – it seems to be just getting better and better each rendition they release. Probably 80% of my images are improved by this filter, even if I do not realize the image needs it. The image below used the Topaz AI Sharpen set to my favorite settings of Processing Mode Stabilize, Remove Blur 0.80 (this is the sharpening slider) and Suppress Noise 0.30. For some reason these settings work on most of my images. I will try the other Processing Modes (Sharpen and Focus) if there is no noticeably improvement with these settings. And by applying and adding a black layer mask to the image back in Photoshop, just areas needing the sharpening can be painted back quickly. See my Topaz Sharpen AI – Good or Bad? and Yes, Free Upgrade for Infocus Owners blog for a quick review. Below is a split screenshot of how the image looked before using LR and after with this filter – it is especially noticeable in the little branches that are hanging down. Subtle but definitely better.
Luminar 4 or Luminar Flex – looks like Skylum has pulled Flex
Last week I did a quick review of Luminar 4 (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) and I have discussed Flex previously. Flex at one time was a free program for Luminar 3 owners and the was sold as a separate program. Until recently it was available on their site, but at this time I am having problems finding it. I hope that they have not quit updating or selling this product as it is very handy for people who do not need the cataloging function of the program but love the filters. I will try to find out more and update any new information. There is a difference – mainly in the filters. If you want the latest and greatest of the AI filters, Luminar 4 has them – the new AI Sky Replacement, AI Structure, and AI Skin Enhancer along with the new Portrait Enhancer are in it. Luminar Flex has the Accent AI Filter 2.0 and AI Sky Enhancer and a total of 51 filters that can be applied to your images. Luminar 4 has the cataloging capability but only 32 total filters (some are grouped together under a new name and were counted individually). This has upset some people. Also I have found in both programs that using the Structure filter with the Details filter gives an excellent Sharpening effect. Flex has been around for a while and the reason people loved it is that it had a Smart Object capability which Luminar 3 did not. Luminar 4 does have the Smart Object functionality, but if you are a Windows person, the recent update to Photoshop 2020 makes it uneditable – this is also true for Flex. The Tech team is working on it and the issue should be resolved soon. I think both programs do an excellent job at a fairly reasonable price. Once again, give them both a try. I find Luminar products seem to have really good color in them and some excellent photo filters. See my Checking out Skylum’s Luminar 4 blog and Luminar Flex – Exactly What Is This? blog for interface screenshots. I do use Flex all the time on my images – just got Luminar 4 so still deciding which is better.
DXO Nik Collection 2
They have now updated the original Nik Suite and added some new filters and a new interface. I am still using the original as it seems to be working fine for me with the new Photoshop 2020 update. My all time “Favorite” plugin that I use on 98% of my images is Viveza (the last step on the image above used this filter to emphasize some focal points). Many people feel that Lightroom does the same thing, but not for me. It was the second plugin I bought (behind the original Topaz Adjust) many years ago and I still love it (as well as Topaz Adjust – they have a Topaz Adjust AI program that I am still trying out). Back to DXO’s Nik Collection 2 – they claim to have added 40 new filters (8 to just the Color Efex Program). I can’t say enough good things about Nik – they supported my blog for years before Google bought them. I strongly suggest you try out their products.
TOPAZ STUDIO 2
Topaz considers this their “creative filter collection” and that is probably a fair assessment. Since it contains Topaz Impression and Topaz AI Remix leading the way to get some really unique results, it is probably the most versatile of all the suites available. It also contains Glow, Edges, Precision Contrast and Precision Detail, and Color Theme (a hidden jewel for changing colors in your image) filters besides all the useful Looks (presets). It is now available for just a flat fee – if you own some of the filters, there is a discount available to you but you need to contact them before you buy to find out what it will cost. That said, there is no cataloging and more limited Camera Raw ability going on here – just lots of filters to give unique effects and fabulous color results. Topaz has worked very hard to improve their original Topaz Studio 1 to make it easier and faster to use. I love parts of it, but I miss parts of it too. The biggest issue is that the older Topaz plugins are no longer linked within the interface (they can still be used from the Filter -> Topaz Labs back in Photoshop) – but it will link the newer AI filters. I use this program a lot – definitely worth getting. Check out my What About This Topaz Studio 2 Update? Not Bad! blog for more info on it.
OTHERS I LIKE BUT DO NOT USE ALL THE TIME
TOPAZ DeNoise AI
I am a huge Topaz fan so I must say that I do love their plugins, but some I do not use all the time. The Topaz DeNoise AI is a fabulous plugin – and it does contain everyone’s favorite AI Clear that can be selected when opened. I find I do not need to do this often since DeNoise AI seems to overlap with the Sharpen AI somewhat and AI Clear is in Topaz Studio 2. Usually I use Studio to add the DeNoise as this little filter is so handy to access (and you can use a brush to paint it off in parts of the image in Studio.) For more info, check out my Topaz DeNoise AI – And Yes, Free Upgrade When Your Own DeNoise6 or AI Clear blog.
Corel’s Painter Particalshop
This Photoshop plugin is a really great way to add some fun to your images. There are many new brushes that can be added to the plugin (at a cost) to get some interesting effects, so check it out if you want to see what is available. For example, Particleshop has a Perfect Pets set, Sketch, Sunny Rays, Rust and Patina, Trees & Foliage – all kinds of brushes to get. I do not this plugin a lot, but there are times it adds just the perfect touch. Most have several settings to change the look of the brushes. This plugin is working fine with Photoshop 2020. Check out my Intro to Corel Particleshop Brushes for Photoshop blog.
Flaming Pears Flood Filter
The Flood Filter has been around for years without changing much, but it is still one of the best effects for water I have ever seen. Lots of sliders and a very smooth effect with great reflections can be obtained as well as very rough waters and lot of waves. Great for getting some interesting effects. I have an older version and it works just fine with Photoshop 2020. And check my older blog called The Flood Look.
Still the best for enlarging your image – I love this program and use it all the time. It is constantly being upgraded and does a fabulous job! Now you can add some sharpening to bring in more detail when enlarging and denoise if there is a problem with this. One of Topaz’s best! And yes, I have done a blog on it too – see The Best New Software Around – Topaz A.I. Gigapixel! blog.
These are just some of the great plugins out there. I have found that I get confused when I use them all so I am trying to choose what are my very favorites and stick to learning how to use them better. That being said, sometimes getting a new set of filters really helps on the creative end of things. I hope this blog gives you some ideas for a few nice add-ins to Photoshop. Have a great shopping week and Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating! I am taking next week off, so see you in a couple!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week was spent mainly sharpening up my “digital painting” skills. This Lion image taken at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, just seemed to be the right type for this process as his background was up against a rather rocky fence. That is one thing to look for when choosing a subject to paint – what the background is and does it help or hurt the subject. This is not unlike adding a texture to an image to remove an ugly background. But in this case, the lion had such a wonderful furry head, he was perfect for doing a little digital work.
If you are new to digital painting and Mixer brushes, which are a main part of painting in PS, check out a couple videos by PS guru Jesus Ramirez. The first is less than two minutes long showing how to make a very basic brush (which worked pretty well for me) and is called Oil Painting Effect From Your Photos – Photoshop Mixer Brush Technique. The second is longer Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge – Mixer Brush from Adobe Creative Cloud (skip to the 9 minute mark for the tutorial). These two videos show how to get a really quick digital painting by just learning to use a Mixer Brush and make a few changes in the settings. And the results are much better than just using the Oil Paint Filter in PS.
I have been experimenting with painting on a layer(s) above using regular and mixer brushes, then going back to the original image layer and duplicating it. Next going into Topaz Impression via Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio or Topaz Labs, and applying the Impression filter. (For this image, used default settings and changed: Stroke to 07, Stroke Width -0.24, and Texture set to Background Type Original – had to do a little smoothing in PS to remove stroke edges.) Back in PS the top layer(s) are still your original digital painting strokes with the Impression layer underneath – this gives a nice undercoating to continue painting over. The Mixer Brushes will now begin picking up some color from the Impression layer. Create more layers using different brushes to get a really nice painted image that will show off your own style.
The lion image took several hours to complete, lots of layers, and 7 iterations before the best look was achieved. It has been my experience that digital painting takes quite a while to get a good look, especially if there are a lot of details in the image. You may want to keep it in but be sure to soften it down.
2019 Summer Brushes
Also as a side note, I just downloaded Kyle T. Webster’s 2019 Summer Brushes – to download, open pop out menu in the upper right corner of the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes. (if you are not logged into the Cloud, you will need to log in at this point.) Kyle’s website opened up where the new brushes shown at the top of the page. Kyle says “Find your perfect summer color with brushes that take advantage of Photoshop’s unique color mixing effects. Also included in this set: A tribute brush to the great Ben Shahn, an updated China Marker, and great new pattern brushes.” There are 23 new brushes, 3 of them Mixers. I am looking forward to giving them a test run!
Hope you get a chance to check out those two videos and try out some digital painting. It is a lot of fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter
Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can!
This week I have been playing around with the update Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio 2. (Last week I did a review of the of it – check out my What About This Topaz Studio 2 Update? Not Bad! blog and video.) I imagine that everyone has noticed several small updates came out this week, each adding a couple more features to the interface. There now is a Navigation Tool on the bottom right toolbar – it is so handy for moving around the image when zoomed way in. A Crop/Rotate/Straighten tool has also been added – probably will not use this a lot but sometimes when an image is crooked, it is nice to have. Your own textures can now be added into the Texture filter as in Topaz Studio 1. I am really looking forward to being able to add another layer as an image (like the Image Layer filter in the original) – I miss not having this feature. But all in all Topaz has been working hard to get this updated software running smoothly.
A Little about Brushes
The Water Lily image, taken at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, is an example of using the wonderful Impression filter that comes with Topaz Studio 2. For me it works great as either a nice painterly background for regular portraits or animal images or as a painting starting point as used in the Lily look. For this image Impression’s default settings were applied except the Type 06 Brush Stroke was used. Back in PS, on separate layers, Blender Mixer Brushes and my SJ Pastel 3 regular painting brush were used to add color and smooth out the strokes. (To create this brush, check out my How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-up blog – in the middle are the settings.) Even though they have been around for a while, Fay Sirkis mixers are some of the best – only place I can find to download them is from her Kelby One painting courses and they are worth it.
Obviously Kyle Webster provides a huge amount of choices for painting. The PS Legacy brushes are also still available and have a lot of good mixer brushes. The Fan Flat Blender Mixer brush, located by clicking the Brushes Panel pop-out in top right and select Converted Legacy Tool Presets (when dialog appears asking to “Restore the Converted…”, say OK to add set to the brush list) is a great brush and several variations can easily be made in the Brush Settings Panel (like changing the Brush Angle and Size, adding Shape Dynamics, and adjusting Texture settings).
I also love GrutBrushes – his cloud brushes are just the best available and his InkyLeaks splatter set is really good also (check out his free sampler of brushes and his free brush of the week each Monday).
My previously presented Toucan image is an example of using an Impression filter, in this case it was the Edward Hopper Look (previously preset) – used a Topaz brush to mask out the eyes and beaks of the birds, but the result of not applying the whole painterly effect to the image can be seen. This to me is one major reason why I have to have Topaz Studio 2 as no other plugin company has anything like Impression in their filters. Back in Photoshop a regular soft small soft round brush was used on a New Layer to really emphasize the eyes more. Most of the time a painting clean up layer needs to be done to fine-tune where a few strokes are off a little.
Turning Any Blender Mixer Brush into a Painting Mixer Brush (or One that Adds Color)
To create some of your own Mixer Brush variations, I have listed a few steps to help you out.
Settings for a Blender Mixer: To blend the colors , in the Options Bar:
- Turn off the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon by clicking on it
- Always leave “Clean the brush after every stroke” clicked on
- Select the Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the drop-down
- Check Sample All Layers
Now you have a pretty nice blending Mixer brush. If some color shows up, you left the “Load” icon turned on.
Settings for a Painting Mixer:
- Turn On the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon (or no color will be painted as the icon will be clear)
- Change the drop down to Dry, Light Load
- ALT+click in your image to sample a color if using one from your image. Note that there is a drop-down by the “Current Brush Load” icon which gives you a choice to “Load Solid Colors Only” instead of a bit of what was under your brush when you clicked
Dab a few times to add your color and then turn off the “Current Brush Load” icon and set back to the Very Wet Heavy Mix to blend some more. This is really handy to know when you are blending away and find that you are missing a color to mix into the background. Since just blending the color back in, it does not have to look that good when you dab. This being said, lots of times I just use a regular brush to add the color in if using the same stroke effect is not that important. Either way works great depending on where the blending is occurring in the image.
That’s it for this week – just thought I would share a little how I paint using Topaz Studio 2 Impression. I like to work this way as Impression gives a nice effect in the background and as much or as little of this effect can be left in the image by using Photoshop brushes. It gives me the creative aspect I want but cuts down on the actual background painting time. Hope this was a helpful blog for those of you wanting to try out painting. Impression is definitely the way to go. And remember, it comes with Topaz Studio 2! Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd
Well I missed last week due to some traveling and it was a busy one for Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link). Since I have always been a huge Topaz fan, I knew this would be a good update, and to be honest, when I first heard about it I had my doubts. But having worked with the program on a few images, it is really good and a much needed update. I have been spending my time just getting up to speed on what they have changed in the interface. They now have a much better way of adding filters – no more Apply step – just filters stacking as Effect Layers, a lot like the other plug-ins have begun doing. This is probably the biggest change. So lets get started and dive deeper into what is going on with this software update. (For what was used in the image above, check Image 1 Info at end of blog.)
First off: who qualifies for a free update? From Topaz website “If you own Studio adjustments with total list price > $99.00, you’ll receive Studio 2 for free.” “If you own Studio adjustments with total list price <$99.99, you’ll receive store credit for the adjustments you do own.” I received an e-mail indicating I qualified for an update, but if you are not sure, go to Topaz Help Center -> Studio -> Topaz Studio 2 which opens the Topaz Studio 2 Frequently Asked Questions – go down to question 4 where a link will tell you if you are eligible. Otherwise there is now just a one time payment and Topaz Studio 2 will contain all the filters that were available in the original Topaz Studio, which as I see it, is a good deal anyway you do it.
What I Like about Topaz Studio 2:
- They now have official Effect Layers in the program and no longer is an Apply button needed before you add other filters! Best news and brings Studio 2 up to date with all the other big guys out there.
- AI Clear is still in the program! Definitely one of my top 5 plugins ever! (And that is saying something for me!) In my opinion, used with Precision Detail (which is also included in the program), they create the most incredible detail.
- Other filters that are provided: Impression (another fabulous totally unique program by Topaz – no one else has anything like it), AI ReMix (another totally unique filter), Precision Contrast, Texture, Glow, Motion Blurs (one of my favorites – get some really unique effects with it), and Color Theme (which allows you to change 5 major colors in the image) along with all the standard filters one would expect with this program. Shortly Topaz will be connecting up all your original plug-ins into the interface.
- The masking tools are much smoother and better than ever. I have always felt that Topaz has the best masking tools of any program (runs much smoother than Lightroom’s brush), and they are promising more improvements in this area shortly.
- Much cleaner interface. The filters are broken down into three sections: Essential, Creative, and Stylistic. Within each section, the filters are now listed alphabetically which I find very handy. Just click the Favorites heart icon to have a list with just your favorite filters showing. Can now see the recent filters applied also. All the Looks (previously presets) are no longer listed by specific plug-in but alphabetically in one group or specific styles like abstract for example.
What I Don’t Like about Topaz Studio 2:
- I was originally upset that my presets were not present. If you go under Help -> Migrate custom TS1 Presets, they are immediately brought into TS2. Originally you could only do this once, but as of yesterday, it is okay to do it again if you created a recent preset in TS1 and want to bring it into TS2.
- Can only save the layers as a .ts2 file if you want to go back and tweak the filter settings. If used in Photoshop as a plugin, the settings will not be retained so you better save your changes as a new Look (preset) if you want to use it again. The Save Look icon is in the top right of the interface.
- Would love to see a Color Lookup Table filter.
These changes are coming soon: plug-in support – in other words, all the Topaz plug-ins you previously bought that are listed as the Plug-ins in the top Menu Studio 1 will soon be available within the new TS2 interface. To find out what was recently updated in the interface, go to the Topaz Help Center -> Studio -> Topaz Studio 2 -> Topaz Studio 2 Changelog (open see all articles to find it). As of yesterday they added a Histogram which is located in the lower right corner of the interface, filter presets (the ones that are in the drop-down menus in the individual filters) available – noticed my personal presets did not show up, just the Topaz ones. They say these are their priority items: Plug-in support, Custom Filter Presets, Image Navigator, Texture Names (now none are shown – update – now named), and Texture Management. Then Masking updates will be coming out. I am pretty excited for the masking update as this is such a great part of most Topaz plugins.
Below is a short video on how I used Topaz Studio 2 to create this effect and show you how to create a mask. Both the Elephant and the Guitar Man images are in the video. See Image 2 below for the actual settings for the Studio filters in the Elephant image. See Image 3 at end for Guitar Man info.
As you can see this is definitely a more modern plug-in interface and using the plug-in is much more user friendly than Studio 1. I was initially worried that this was not going to be a good update, but it has definitely exceeded my expectations. If you do not qualify for the update, which I am sure many of you do since Topaz has been around a while, give this new software a spin. It has a 30-day trial and currently they are running a $20 off sale until August 9th. Here’s a great tip for you: if you miss this offer, watch one of Topaz’s live webinars as the presenters always give a good discount for a week or so just for watching.
If you are a Topaz fan, this is a no-brainer. The update is definitely a good one and once our older plug-ins are attached, it will be a great one. If you are new to Topaz, you will be in for a big treat. Since I consider myself a creative, this software comes with Impression and AI ReMix along with Textures, AI Clear and many other sliders that make regular filters something quite spectacular. Lots of fun with this program so check it out.
Hope everyone is having a great summer. I am excited Topaz has updated Studio and I know they are working on some more wonderful programs to help create some amazing pictures. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1 Info: First did a little tone adjustment in Lightroom before opening this image in Photoshop. The background layer was duplicated and this layer was opened in Topaz Studio 2. These filters were applied in Studio: TSO2 – AI Clear: default settings; Precision Detail: Overall Small Detail 0.35, Overall Medium Detail 0.32, and Overall Large Detail -0.74 and Boost -0.08; Midtones 0.18, Shadows -0.13, Highlights -0.52, Black Point 0.24 and White Point 0.07; and Color Overlay: Color #dfd698 and used Color mask – selected just the flower and the butterfly and it evened out the background color. Applied and back in Photoshop a New Layer was created to paint over a few areas that needed smoothing out. Darken and Lighten Curves Adjustment Layers were used. Two textures were added using the free extension called Adobe Paper Texture Pro (Alice was added set to Overlay blend mode at 91% layer opacity and Aquarius set to Darken blend mode at 68% layer opacity – the moth and flower were painted out in a layer mask to remove texture from them. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used. Next a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using On1 Landscape5 preset at 83%, and the last step was a spotlight effect on the moth. The text is a font called Ramland. Notice I do not just use Topaz. I like to use several different types of plug-ins to get a look I like. But Studio does have a lot of great filters to get a good start look.
Image 2: The Elephant image used another preset I created called SJ Wildlife Look. It contains all the filters in the video but I will list the settings used in the blog image here. Topaz Studio 2 – AI Clear: default settings; Basic Adjustment: Exposure 0.14; Blur: Blur Type Gaussian, Amount 0.31 and Preserve Edge 0.22 – not a Gradient Mask was selected, flipped and Applied, like in the video, to remove effect from foreground and lower elephant – then the Brush was used to mask the effect off the rest of the elephant; HSL Color Toning: Opacity 0.66, Orange Saturation 0.45, Yellow Hue -0.06, Sat 0.45 and Lightness 0.18, and Green Hue -0.45, Sat -0.58 and Lightness 0.01, and Details 0.22 – this image was a little more green than the video image which had more yellow tones to it; Texture: 3rd column/6th row, Brightness -0.07, Contrast -0.21, Detail -0.37, and Sat -0.06: Vignette: Strength 0.99, Size 0.56, Transition 0.99 Roundness 0.13, and brown color (#261f1c); and Curves: Used a very slight S curve. Back in Photoshop the Liquify Tool was used to slightly increase the Elephant’s eye so you could see it. The eye was selected using the Quick Mask Tool and then the Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to bring out the contrast of the eye just a bit. On a New Layer the Blur Tool at 100% Strength was used to slightly blur the tree stump behind the Elephant’s trunk. That was it.
Image 3: Guitar Man image used a Look (preset) that I created from the filters I put together. Here are the basic settings if you would like to try them out. Impression: Stroke Type05, Number of Strokes Low, Brush Size 0.57, Paint Volume 0.02, Paint Opacity 0.56, Stroke Width -0.08, Stroke Length 0.18; Basic Adjustment Filter (note these will be different depending on your image): Exposure 0.45, Clarity 0.81, Shadow -0.56, Highlight 0.23 and Saturation 0.73; Color Theme: all new colors listed left to right. #474545 (Lightness 0.28), #57776f (Lightness 0.47), #3f2cc7 (Lightness 0.78), #6b9af7 (Lightness 0.97), and #d7d7f7 (Lightness 0.97); Brightness Contrast set to Opacity 0.71 and Color Burn blend mode, Brightness -0.47, Contrast 1.39, and Saturation 1.37; and AI ReMix: Opacity 0.18, Color Marker preset, Style Strength Low, Contrast 0.69 and Saturation 0.64. Note that several of these filters used masks to remove the effect from his hands or the actual guitar. Unfortunately Studio does not retain the masks for you, and you would not want it in a Look anyway since each image is different. But definitely do some masking to get a pleasing effect with this combination of filters. When I did this effect in the video, I just pulled back the amount to something below 50% and added another AI ReMix filter using A Neon Rise style on top with a lowered opacity (22%) – no other changes. Last step in Photoshop was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer. I created in Topaz a preset called SJ Abstract Look using all the filters but the top AI ReMix Filter.
Since it is the hot days of summer, I have just been having some fun creating a few rather abstract images using Photoshop and thought I would share some of my results. One thing I have found is that the Motion Blur filter, whether using Photoshop’s or Topaz’s, is wonderful to add with other filters to get some great abstract looks. For the image above I had watched a good video by Denise Ippolito, a really great wildlife and flower photographer, called The Art of Flower Photography. At the end of her video (at the 50:43 mark) and in her blog of 7/1/19, she shows you how to create some beautiful color abstracts in camera while taking floral and landscape images. That gave me the idea that maybe I could do the same thing using Photoshop.
This Sand Sculpture looking image used a Motion Blur and Liquify Tool along with several stamp brushes. For all the details, check out my Image 1 description at end of blog.
This image was created using an image taken from behind of a person walking on the Queen’s Walk in London. She was selected and a new background created to obtain this rather abstract feel in the image. For post info, check out Image 2 details at end of blog.
The above image represents a different way to create an abstract – this time a Mixer Blender Brush was used – one provided by Photoshop called the Fan Flat Mixer (located in PS’s Converted Legacy Tool Presets -> Default Tool Presets). The original image was from OnOne’s Springtime Nature Textures packet of small flowers just lying on the ground. The blender was used to stretch out and blend the stalks together, creating a very soft abstract effect easily. See Image 3 for more details.
Well that’s it for this week – I love doing creative things with images. It can turn a rather useless image into something rather spectacular. Have a good week – I will be skipping next week but will return with some new tips and tricks! ……. Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: The top image is one I created from an image taken at Stirling Castle in Scotland of the surrounding countryside. In Lightroom the colors were kept to a fairly low contrast color palette using just the blue, aqua and gray tones. In Photoshop I changed the color palette to purples and pinks using the Camera Raw Filter which made the image look awful. On a duplicate layer Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) the Motion Blurs filter was applied – just dragged the arrow all the way left to create a straight horizontal line. Then used their HSL filter to get a good set of colors. (A very similar effect can be achieved in PS by going to the Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur and using an Angle of 0 and a Distance of 2000 pixels.) The turquoise color was added in at this point. To get the wave effect, Liquify was used – just pushed the lines up and down. A clean up layer to even out some of the lines using the Clone Stamp brush was used. Next on a layer on top a bird brush by Wavenwater Brushes n Tools was added and the layer set to 73% opacity. On another layer a Neverhurtno Sealife Scallops brush was added. Next layer was from immrgy in a set of brushes called Anemone-Sheels-Corel/Mussel. Next a layer with just some speckles from Wavenwater’s set was also used. Finally a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Abstract Cobalt-Carmine preset. On a New Layer on top a mixer was used to just smooth the edges between the sky and the waves. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the Adobe Paper Texture Pro was used to add the Apple Blush texture set to Overlay blend mode at 70% opacity. This was a lot of fun to create and really was not that hard.
Image 2: This image took a while to create and several different options were tried before the correct feel to the image popped up. Mainly it was post processed in two major steps. First the woman was extracted and placed on her own layer. She was duplicated with a black layer mask where just her purse and shoes were painted back. Then the first layer of the lady was selected (CTRL+click on the thumbnail) and she was filled with black (set colors to black and white and ALT+Backspace). Now just the purse and shoes show up. The second major section was used the Motion Blur Tool on the image and stretching it. Then a second Abstract Texture by Inspiration Hut called Design Background 1 (their sight is not coming up correctly so I could not get a link, but will add it once it is straightened out) was placed on top and set to 78% layer opacity. On a new layer some black vertical brush strokes were added to the side. Last step was to add a vignette – this one used the one described in my recent Using a Levels Adjustment Layer for a Vignette blog. Silhouettes always create interesting subjects.
Image 3: As stated above, the original image was taken from an OnOne give away set in April called Springtime Nature Textures which contained little white and blue blossoms. The layer was duplicated and the Fan Flat Mixer brush (located in PS’s Converted Legacy Tool Presets -> Default Tool Presets) was used to smooth it all together with just long brush strokes – it looked really blurry at this point. Then several other brushes on individual layers were added to get more detail back into the image: Serge Ramelli watercolor brushes (see his How to Create a Watercolor Painting Effect with Photoshop video to download brushes), a whole bunch of Grut’s Brushes to create some new details (these are best brushes around – check him out), and one of my favorite brushes every by Melissa Gallo called a Vine Brush (only available with her PS painting class). French Kiss Artiste Fauve Rainbow texture (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) was added on top with a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer clipped to it and the Saturation set to -100 to remove all the color and leave just the texture. That was it. Lots of fun.
This week I thought I would just show a creative way to present your subjects if you get tired of just using a single image. The above image is of a beautiful Lioness at the Jacksonville Zoo. This was supposed to be a sepia tone but after a lot of iterations, the cool tones looked the best to me. By using two images, it displayed her different expressions. These kind of composites can be really beautiful and are fun to do, especially if you have a couple images that compliment each other.
Here are the steps to get the above look: This image was originally post processed in Lightroom as a color image and settings were pasted between the images so they looked similar in tone. Then in a New Document in Photoshop a black background layer was created and the images were added. For the top face, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReMask was used to select the lion as a nice result could not be achieved with Photoshop’s Select and Mask command. For the foreground Lion, the Pen Tool was used to select her. I tried using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert this image to black and white, but it just did not work – the image looked degraded. Instead I used Topaz Studio’s Black and White filter – it has an Orange slider which really worked with a lion image (also Topaz has had the best color sliders since they started), Precision Detail, a Color Overlay using a charcoal blue color (#2e4e62), and Precision Contrast. Still needed something else, so Luminar (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Flex’s Image Radiance filter was added for the soft effect – it just popped this image. In the filter mask, the faces were painted back to retain the detail. A spotlight effect and rim lighting on the right side of both faces was added in Photoshop. Some Mixer Brush magic was used on the upper image to blend her neck into the background, and a Gradient Tool was used on a new layer to slightly darken the top face. This image took some manipulation to get the look I liked – luckily I like to play around with all the different filters! But I think the results can be quite outstanding.
For a slightly different look, these Day Lilies taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens were put on a black background just like above, but this time a leaf image was added to the upper right edge to add a very subtle feel. (See my Beautiful Leaves Tidbits Blog for the original leaf image.) To get the flowers to light up so much, the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used. A little spotlight effect also helped and some leaves were drawn in to fill them out a little. Next Viveza 2 was used to blend the two images together seamlessly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used at the end to get the final look.
Here is an older image taken several years ago in Arizona with yet a different way of using this kind of effect. In this case a box was added on top of the image where another image could be inserted. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to give the background image a really darker feel.
The above is actually a really simple technique. It used to be more popular and was used a lot in wedding photography. It is still a nice way to achieve a different effect.
Well hope you give this one a try – it is a lot of fun and if you have several good shots of something you like, it might look really nice. Will chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) came out with their new DeNoise AI filter which is supposed to replace the older DeNoise 6 filter and the Topaz Studio AI Clear Adjustment. I am glad we still have access to all of them – and yes, if you own either DeNoise or AI Clear Adjustment, you get the the DeNoise AI filter and stand-alone products for free. What could be better!
So what is DeNoise AI? Once again I have to take info from the website as there is not much info out there on the filter. It seems to me that a pretty noisy image works best when using this filter – for me that means a higher ISO setting or overall darker images. The interface (see screenshot below) is basically the same sliders as AI Clear Adjustment (without the Exposure and Clarity sliders) so it is easy to figure out how the filter works. Definitely need to fiddle with the Noise and Sharpness sliders but I could not see much change with the Restore Detail slider at this time. Also be sure to set the Automatically Update Preview button to Off. It seems this filter produces a much higher DeNoise effect than either AI Clear (which has Remove Noise buttons called Auto, Low, Med and High as choices) and Sharpen AI (which has a Suppress Noise slider). The older DeNoise 6 plugin does not use AI technology so it may not be so useful now.
The only negative I see is DeNoise AI has only a small preview area which limits viewing of the whole effect on the image. It takes a while to get the preview and has to be reapplied each time you move the view area. Once the Apply button is pressed, it takes an even longer time, depending on the size of the image, to set the change on the layer in PS. This will probably be improved with future updates. On difficult images like the one above, it does do a fabulous job and my house image can now be used. Therefore I am finding AI Clear is still working great when I just need a little quick noise clean up but when I see real noise issues, DeNoise AI is excellent. On Topaz’s website, there are several images you can download and try with this software.
On this image when a sky was added (see steps in next paragraph for this), I had to also run the sky layer through the DeNoise AI filter so it would match the image – did not expect to have to do this but it worked! Sometimes textures and sky images are pretty low res and have a lot of noise in them. (Set the sky to Noise Level 0.70 and left Sharpness and Restore Detail at 0.) The house image had these camera settings (ISO 1600, 35 mm using a 18-200 mm zoom lens, F/9.5 at 1/500 sec. taken from a moving car) and was in bad shape. In LR only did a Crop, Enable Lens Profile and Remove Chromatic Aberration. See the screenshot of what the interface looked like after applying the DeNoise filter to the LR image. Click on the image to see a larger view of the interface in Flickr. The noise was particularly apparent in the glass in the windows. Notice all the other reflections from the car window that had to be removed with a Clone Stamp Tool too.
And a little trick for adding a sky: if the original sky is basically all white with lots of tree branches and leaves around it – just add the cloud image on top and then double click on the layer to open the layer style for the sky; set the Blend If to Blue and in Underlying Layer move the black tab right to bring back the leaves and branches (split the tab by ALT clicking on it to pull apart and get a more natural transition between sky and trees). Really quick and easy to do. I might also add that Skylum’s Luminar 3 (for website see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) upgraded this week and totally improved their Accent AI Filter – I used it on this image and was very pleased with the result. Their AI Sky Enhancer was also used on the image. This is also a free update for Luminar 3.0 owners.
I plan on writing about this filter again after I have had more time to test it out. If you own either of the other noise products, be sure to upgrade. Definitely worth doing and it really is a nice addition. I am sure there are many ways to use it on your images. Have a very nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd