Anything Photoshop or Photography

Topaz Studio

USING TOPAZ PLUG INS CREATIVELY

Digitally painted landscape image I find Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Labs and/or Topaz Studio is totally in a “league of its own” when it comes to helping digital artists take their images to a new level. Even though I have blogged about Topaz plugins and most recently Studio’s AI Remix adjustment (see What is Topaz AI Remix????), this week I am presenting a short blog and video on how I created this image using some of the Topaz Studio’s and Lab’s plugins.

The products that really are outstanding to me for creativity are: Topaz Studio AI ReMix adjustment, Topaz Studio (and previously Labs) Impression, Topaz Labs ReStyle, and, believe it or not, this wonderful little program no longer marketed called photoFXlab which uses an InstaTone program section (the 500 px and 1X.com do not work, but the other three do so it works just fine) (See my short InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results! blog). This is not to say that many of their other plugins, like Topaz Adjust, Black & White Effects, Glow, and Texture Effects are not useful for the creative – they are great but maybe not as unique as the ones I mentioned.

AI ReMix adjustment fits right into what I like about Topaz products. It has a bit of a steep learning curve to figure out what works and what does not when trying to get that creative uncanned look. That is why I decided to do this quick blog and video. The original image was beautiful and is from a group of photos at Deeezy called 20 Free Photos from Seychelles – I like to practice with some of these free images. I did not realize I would like the results but since it has an interesting artistic appearance applied, it does not matter that I did not use my own equipment for the image. Wish I had been there to do so. If you do not see the You Tube link in your browser, please open the video from within the blog.

Steps for Post-Processing the Top Image

Once opened in Photoshop, the image was duplicated and taken into Topaz Studio where two adjustments were used: the Impression Adjustment (used Default settings but set it to Stroke Type 09) and AI ReMix (used my SJ Soft Painterly Effect in Preset dropdown and adjustment 0.27 opacity – the SJ Soft Painterly Effect has these settings:  Opacity 0.27, Style Strength Low, Col 7/Row 3 swatch, Brightness 0.53, Contrast 1.17, Saturation 0.98, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 1.00 and Sharpness 0.50). Back in Photoshop, many tweaks were made since the adjustments had added a great creative starting point. I will not go through all the steps – they were quickly reviewed in the video – but it did take a bit of work to get the image to a place that worked for me. Nik Viveza 2 was used to help direct focus and there was a spotlight effect layer. John Derry’s Impasto Varnish Smooth layer style (no longer available-Kyle Webster had some also but I cannot find them either – try searching for Photoshop Impasto layer styles. Basically what is going is that a Bevel and Emboss layer style is added and the Layer Fill slider is set to 0 – preferably use a brush with some interesting edges to paint add the painterly effect on the layer). Used my SJ Pastel 3 favorite brush to paint over a few waves and rock edges to add some additional definition. Then a texture called Solstice Elan2 from French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was added – the same layer style was used on the texture set to 22% layer opacity to soften the whole foreground effect. Then added a frame I created in Corel Painter was added for a final more painterly touch.
Image of a digitally painted landscape

Steps for Post-Processing this Image

Same steps were as above with the same Topaz Studio Impression and AI ReMix adjustment settings and clean up layers. To get this different effect, a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was taken into Topaz ReStyle and I used my SJ Tulips preset with changes to some of the sliders. This preset was created from a tulip image previously processed in ReStyle (see my How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image blog). You can actually get a very similar effect as the ReStyle filter gives when photoFXlab Instatone is opened and applied. Nik Viveza 2 was also used and Curves Dodge and Burn adjustment layers were also used. A little clean up and spotlight effect was applied but no impasto layer styles.

Issue Encountered

One thing noticed was that by applying so much post-processing to an image that was not as high a quality as a RAW file, some artifacting became apparent. On the cooler image below, I rather meticulously painted away the artifacting in the foreground mountain and rock formations mainly using a very tiny (3-9 pixel) brush at 50% strength – this took several hours and could probably use more. On the top image, I got smarter. It occurred to me to just use the Spot Healing Brush set to: Content Aware, Multiply, and Sample All layers using a small brush around 7 pixels. Just smeared long strokes over the areas – only the white artifacting was healed (colored in), but the color in the darker areas was left alone. It took about 10 minutes instead of several hours. Wish I had thought of it earlier before hand painting and healing the first image.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun for you to see how these creative plug-ins can be used together. Below are a couple recent blogs you might have missed on my Tidbits Blog showing some other image examples. Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring – looks like the weather is starting to improve finally!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Enjoying the Attention (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Stand Tall (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment and Impression Adjustment)
Dodging the Fire (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
A Scottish Countryside Town (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Four Picture Triptych with Topaz ReStyle (Topaz Labs ReStyle)
Heathcliff in Toon Lagoon (photoFXLab InstaTone)

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COMPARING SOME SHARPENING TECHNIQUES


Image of some lovely Spring African Violets
I have never really discussed sharpening so this week I am going to just cover the surface of this topic. It is such a huge subject and there are so many ways to sharpen that it is almost impossible to figure out which is best. Lots of questions here on when to apply the sharpening filter that I am not covering. Basically this blog is a quick comparison of techniques to see what is happening when sharpening is applied using different plugins – in both PS and from other software products.

What is sharpening?

Bottom line: Adding edge contrast to make an image look sharper. So when you go through the various plugins, watch for what the various sliders are doing. For more technical info, check out the Resources paragraph.

Now we can understand a little more what is going on when sharpening an image and figure out what is really affecting the sharpness in an image. Different methods were tried to see if one really stood out or does it actually matter. And are they all just doing sharpening or are they added other changes to make the image look better, and possibly affecting the overall tone of the image. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer or Levels Adjustment Layer may need to be added on top. One big issue I found is that some generate a large amount of noise. Therefore a Noise Reduction filter might be needed. A black layer mask to localize the sharpening could be used to contain the noise by painting back just where the sharpening is needed. Also Blend If sliders in the Layer Style could be used – apparently it does not matter which slider is used for sharpening since just adjusting the impact on the far highlights or shadows in the image. Also, look at the Radius settings in the filters – that is where the halo issued develop many times.

These plugins and filters were explored and just the results for each are shown in the short video (see link below): Topaz Studio and Labs Detail or Clarity adjustments, On1 Photo RAW 2018 Precision Contrast and Sharpening filters, Google Nik’s Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor filter, Lucis Pro’s 6.0.9 filter with a layer mask, Luminar 2018’s Details Enhancer and Structure filters, and even Aurora 2018 HDR software. Photoshop’s own methods were also tried including: the Unsharp Mask Filter, Shake Reduction Filter, High Pass filter, the Sharpen Tool, the Camera Raw Filter, the Hard Mix blend mode, and Smart Sharpen Filter. It has also been demonstrated even HDR software can do wonders to sharpen an image so I added an example using Aurora 2018. No wonder there is so much confusion about which is the best to use. So many of these examples sharpen very nicely. Just want for the color or noise changes. For links to all the software, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar). If the video link is not appearing in the RSS feed or phone, click on the blog to access.

Bottom Line

My favorite techniques as noted in the video were:

  • Topaz Studio or Labs Precision Detail – have used it for years and it never lets me down but did not like Studio’s Unsharp Mask. (Settings:  Shadows Small Detail 0.58, Medium Detail 0.65 and Large Details 0.51; Highlights Small Detail 0.35, Medium 0.37, and Large Detail 0.32; Lighting Midtones -0.12, Shadows 0.36, and Highlights -0.50. In layer mask painted effect into the flowers only.)
  • On1 Photo Raw 2018 Sharpening Filter – I have noted this before and it is still gives excellent results. (Settings: Type High Pass, Halo 84, Amount 68, Protect Shadows 11 and Protect Highlights 11.) I did not like their Dynamic Contrast for this, but it is still a really good filter.
  • Photoshop Unsharp Mask using LAB Mode twice. (Settings: Amount 100, Radius 3.0, and Threshold 4.) Downside is that I had to create a duplicate document to go into LAB mode to apply and then bring the layer back into PS. (This technique was first seen in Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book. (Go to Image -> Mode -> Lab color; Highlight the Lightness Channel in Channel’s panel, Apply Unsharp Mask Amount 100, Radius 3, and Threshold 4; Apply Unsharp Mask filter again; and go back to Image -> Mode -> RGB.)
  • Photoshop Smart Sharpen filter. I have never used this much, but Blake Rudis discussed it in his Photoshop CC Boot Camp on Creative Live recently and it really looks good. (Settings: Amount 417%, Radius 2.7, Reduce Noise 40%, Remove Gaussian Blur, Shadows Fade Amount 12, Tonal Width 50%, Radius 21, and Highlights set to Fade Amount 0.)

The High Pass Filter effects in the past have proved to be quite nice, but not so good on this image. I will still use the Sharpening in Lightroom – it does work well at the very beginning of the workflow when just a little sharpening is needed. I will probably use the Smart Sharpen Filter in Photoshop when I need a hammer! And a lot of people use Topaz Detail to do a final sharpening for printing. Many of the other choices would do fine for sharpening and with a different kind of image, they  might look a lot better than what the floral results were. And remember if you are working in a plugin using various adjustments or filters, using the compatible sharpening filters will probably work just fine – they were developed to work with their own products. This blog just presented some examples of some of the things that can be done to sharpen an image. There are so many combinations that I could have done many more techniques. Check out the resources below for other ideas on how to do this well.

Resources

Continue reading for a good technical explanation of this and some good resources to learn about this subject. Harry Guiness gives an excellent explanation as to what sharpening is and what has to be done. To take a quote from his blog at EnvatoTuts+ in What is Image Sharpening: “Sharpness is a combination of two factors: resolution and acutance. Resolution is straightforward and not subjective. It’s just the size, in pixels, of the image file. All other factors equal, the higher the resolution of the image—the more pixels it has—the sharper it can be. Acutance is a little more complicated. It’s a subjective measure of the contrast at an edge. There’s no unit for acutance—you either think an edge has contrast or think it doesn’t. Edges that have more contrast appear to have a more defined edge to the human visual system. …..Sharpness comes down to how defined the details in an image are—especially the small details. For example, if a subject’s eyelashes are an indistinct black blur they won’t appear sharp. If, on the other hand, you can pick out each one then most people will consider the image sharp……the only way to increase apparent sharpness is by increasing acutance. If you want your image to look sharper, you need to add edge contrast.” This was a great article and part of 3 so check out his The 7 Hidden Dangers of Image Sharpening blog and his Selective Sharpening Using High Pass in Adobe Photoshop blog – all excellent information. I have an older book that is still really relevant called Image Sharpening by Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe that is considered one of the best on the subject ever written. So if you want some really good info on this, check out this book. I wanted to figure out which of the various plug-ins and filters work the best for this. Also Martin Evenings Photoshop books all cover this topic very thoroughly.

This blog turned into quite a project but I learned a lot about sharpening. If you have time, try out some of the filters I used above, especially the Photoshop filters to see what results you are getting. I did all my changes on a flower image, but a landscape image would be nice to try with the same set of filters to see what happens. Hope everyone has a great week – Spring is finally here!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO QUICKLY ADD A TOUCH OF GOLD TO YOUR TEXT

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


ENJOYING SOME SPRING BUTTERFLIES

Graphic image butterflies and flowersThought about taking a few weeks break so I can try out some things I am learning, but I am still here – I keep wanting to pass on info. I created this image just for fun and trying to reinforce a few work habits when creating this type of composite. Also thought I would add  on a few more tips I promised when creating my Giraffe composite a few weeks ago. (See my Taking a Break to Learn Some New Things blog.)

FONT TIP: This image started when I downloaded a couple new free fonts from Design Cuts called Style-Casual and Style Endings by TypeSETit. At first I was not too taken by either one of the fonts, and then I realized that by using the Style Endings font for the first and last letters of the text, and then using Style Casual font to connect the rest of the text, it looked really good – along with the pretty nice fancy small “o.” A Simply Wonderful text line was created and then turned into a brush by going to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. This is really fun to do if you have some nice fonts on your computer – they can easily be turned into text brushes and .PNG files. Very could be very useful for graphic projects.

ADDING A SUBSTRATE LAYER TIP: My substrate layer was non-existent almost until the end of working on this project when I finally put the white one created in the Azaleus image (see my How to Create a Pretty Simple Background and Text Effect blog) the text added. It definitely filled in some texture that was missing especially in the lighter areas of the image. So that is one thing I learned while creating this image – be sure to add some kind of bottom level texture just to fill in the holes. It can always be swapped out later after adding your elements.

PAINT ON THE ADDED ELEMENTS TIP: Another thing I did was to actually paint on some of the elements that were put in the image. The two butterflies on the left side were from a really nice brush set by Marrielle P Kokosidou – by painting in the elements after stamping down the original element, some additional interest could be achieved. The same was true with the branch of leaves at the top (from a painted set from Design Cuts in their Nature Plant Graphics Watercolour Grit Textures set with Octopus Artis elements), additional painting was done using some other colors on it. Design Cuts is a great place to get free samples of very good elements from great artists for these type of photos. The brush I used was mainly the SJ Pastel 3-painting brush (see my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog) – use it every day along with my SJ 3 Pastel-Van Gogh TI brush. (It can be created by following my Painting Fun in Photoshop blog’s third paragraph – gives an explanation on how to make the base brush more painterly.) The other butterfly was also one from Design Cuts called Watercolour Butterfly by Octopus Artis – not much was done to the butterfly itself, but a watercolor paint stroke (stroke by Vintage Design Co. but could not find the download link) and a moon brush stroked (from 20 moon brushes by Liza Giannouri-moon 3) was placed behind it. Wanted to give credit to the people who did the flowers in this image – the pink center flower is from a frame in a set by from Creative Market (another site to follow – they  have some great free sets like this one and good deals like the Hydrangea set)  Ginko Textured Watercolor Graphic by Paperly Studio; and the Hydrangea flower is from Beautiful Watercolor Butterflies Knopazyzy Handrangea Flower set.

CREATE MORE PAINTBRUSHES TIP: Created a paintbrush (named it SJ Butterfly Brush 5 Row-Marrielle P Kokosidou) at a very small size and setting it to a small size with Spacing at 180%, Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 24% and Angle Jitter 21%, and a Color Dynamics set to 100% Foreground/Background Jitter and Purity -24%. It was used at the top of the image using a slight color variation and at the bottom of the image in just one color. I have brushes using hearts and bubbles using similar settings. So the  tip is: make a small object type of brush to add some interest around major elements instead of just using round splotches (which does work in some cases).

BRUSH IN SOME COLOR BEHIND YOUR ELEMENTS TIP: This is something I have been doing for a while, especially using the spotlight effect with white and black color at a low opacity and the layer set to Overlay blend mode. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.) It also works for any color using any type of brush – it will add some soft color into your image. The layer does not have to be set to Overlay blend mode – some very interesting effects can be achieved using other blend modes like Linear Burn – and be sure to adjust the Fill (not Layer) opacity to get some really nice effects. NOTE ON FILL SLIDER IN LAYER PANEL: The Layer Opacity will affect certain blend modes differently than the Fill slider – Color Burn, Linear Burn, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge (Add), Vivid Light, Linear Light, Hard Mix, and Difference. Check out which effect you want. Also the Fill opacity does not affect the opacity of layer effects such as drop shadows – this can be important if you have added a layer style like a stroke or bevel effect on a element. A reddish effect was added to the upper left corner. And obviously green in the upper right. The corners were subtlety darkened down using this technique to draw the eye in. Some texture was actually painted on the font lettering to add some interest by using a texture brush and setting the layer to Overlay blend mode – it really brightens up parts of the font.

A couple last things were done in this image. Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio was opened and a black and white sketch effect was applied. It is called SJ Graphic Sketch 1 preset (contains these adjustments: Basic, Precision Contrast, Tone Curves, Smudge and Abstraction) and is up in the community if you would like to try it out. And for me the best way to pull this whole image together is to use the (Google) Nik Viveza 2 – I could not have done this without using this filter. It adjusted out the focus since so much is going on in the image and the colors by adjusting the brightness of each element and sharpness. Need to try it out and since it is still free right now and still works just fine, definitely worth using.

The final image had 43 layers and lots of tweaking but I like the final result. It is important to find a subject you want to work on – this suited me just fine since Spring is almost here! Hope this answered everyone’s scrapbook effect questions – I have learned a lot and it just takes practice to get some nice designed. Also be sure to check out my Tidbits Blog – I added a nice sharpening tip last week. Have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CREATE A PRETTY SIMPLE BACKGROUND AND TEXT EFFECT

Image of a group of Pink AzaleasI started to write about some of the things I learned from a mixed media scrapbooking class a few weeks ago and found that it was just too huge a topic to cover in one blog. Therefore, this week I am going to discuss only a couple items used in the Pink Azaleas image blooming in my yard right now. It is so good to see some Spring flowers and these were real beauties. Think I will take next week off (I say this right now – hum!)

First a  substrate for the flowers needs to be created. This is basically just a “pumped up background” layer(s). The texture often has a gesso effect applied to it. It can include typed text layers (as shown above), or various kinds of brushes to create stamps elements or strokes for color effects that make for an interesting background. It can contains multiple layers of stacked paper or texture layers using different blend modes and layer opacity to get some very unique effects. I hope to try creating my own gesso texture soon – it looks like fun but could be messy. This image used French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Tableaux Wind Song texture for a  painted gesso-looking bottom layer substrate.

To me, it seemed logical to use text that is relevant to the subject. I decided I wanted to use a little poem from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses book called The Flowers (this was one of my very favorite books as a small child) as text for the image. The poem was converted into a Photoshop brush as follows:

  • Go online and find some text you like on the subject.
  • Highlight text and CTRL+C to copy
  • Open up a Text Layer in Photoshop by choosing the Horizontal Text Tool – make sure the color swatch is set to the default Black and White (D) and the actual size of the font is not too large for the text being brought into the image – otherwise the text can be cut off at the bottom. Just start by selecting a readable size that is fairly small as it can be expanded to fit later.
  • Next drag out a text block in the image in Photoshop approximately where the text will be placed.
  • Inside the block, paste by clicking CTRL+V and the text will appear as black in the box.
  • With the text added, it is time to turn this text layer into a brush for use in various places on a layer above the substrate layer. Make sure the Opacity and Flow in the Options Bar are set to 100%, and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name it. It does not need any additional tweaking since the text is a dark black – no midtones to worry about. The new brush appears at the bottom of the list in the Brushes Panel. If the size is really large, that is Okay – it will reduce down in size just fine. If not large enough, just delete the created brush and go back to the text layer and increase the size in the Text Layer. It is harder to get clean edges by sizing up a brush so larger is better.

The brush can now be stamped down in several places on a layer above the substrate layer(s) – add a layer mask to the text layer and using a brush set to 30%, paint out some of the text so it does not look all one brightness. I applied this mask and saved the text down as a second brush and used both in the image above. If using text from a PDF document, then check out my How to Create Vintage Text for Images blog for instructions on how to do this.

If you want would like to convert the text layer to a PNG file to add as an element instead of stamping as a brush, highlight the Text layer. Duplicate the text layer by right clicking and selecting Duplicate… in menu, then in Document drop down, choose New. The document can now be named if you want – it creates a new document. Go to File -> Save As and select the .PNG format so the transparency is retained for adding as a layer into another image. This can be very  handy to have as it seems to me the edges are sharper on the individual element than when using it as a stamped brush. Totally depends on the effect needed.

To finish up the image above, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) AI ReMix adjustment was used to sharpen the stamens in the flowers by using a black layer mask to the Topaz layer in PS and painting back areas to reveal the sharpening (here are the settings using in AI ReMix: Set to Luminosity blend mode using last row/first column swatch and Medium Style Strength. Slider settings were: Brightness -0.12, Contrast 0.98, Sat 2.91, Hue 0.10, smooth Edge 0.11, and Sharpness 0.59.) The actual Azaleas image was copied and placed on top and another black layer mask was added so the flowers could be lightly painted in so some of the text showed through in places. A Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and 65% layer opacity was added along with a Color Look Up Adjustment Layer using the Crisp Warm preset (see Matt Kloskowski’s short video called My Favorite Tool for Styling in Photoshop) set to Color blend mode and 54% layer opacity. On a New Layer some painting was done to define edges of the flowers a little more. Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the center of the flowers and add a little corner vignetting and set t0 58% layer opacity. A Red Channel Luminosity Adjustment Layer was added for a little contrast.

This is a pretty simple way to include a few scrapbook effects to an image but I think it also has almost a painterly look to it. I will go over a few more tips on how to add some more interest to a piece in a later blog. Have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs
How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images
How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text


WHAT IS TOPAZ AI REMIX????

Image of a wooden roadrunner bird from St. AugustineShort break here as Topaz released a new plugin. One thing you have to appreciate about Topaz (for website link, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) is that so many of their plugins are totally unique in the filter world. Topaz Studio’s AI (Artistic Intelligence – not artificial) ReMix Adjustment is one I did not see coming – totally different although it is sort of a blend of many of their filters. I am still trying to figure it out. At this point, there is not much info on it – they promise to supply more soon. So what is this plugin? Topaz says “AI ReMix harnesses the power of custom neural networks to create specialized artistic models based off of real art styles.” Basically they looked at hundreds of artistic images, chose some to train the Artistic Intelligence, and turned the results into what they call image styles. The filter appears to currently have 50 artistic styles from which to choose.

The top image of the wooden roadrunner wind chime was photographed outside a store on St. George Street (one of my previous images) in St. Augustine, Florida. It used the AI ReMix adjustment twice with different styles and blend modes, an HSL Color Tuning adjustment, and a Texture adjustment. Since the texture used was one of my own, I did not upload it to the Community. I was basically doing a little trial-and-error to figure out how to use the program. The bokeh background in the image before taking it into Studio was created by following a great tutorial called How to Create a Lens Dust Photoshop Action Effect by Marko Kozokar at Envato tuts+. The bokeh looks really good with this new adjustment. Below is the interface so you can see what the dialog looks like and some of the slider choices. (Click image for larger view in Flickr.)Screenshot of Topaz AI Adjustment ReMix dialog******
The Polar Bear and Penguin image below used a Studio preset on my original image (see below) that I created called SJ AI Cold Winter Effect and can be downloaded from the Community site. It contains three AI ReMix adjustments, a Color Theme adjustment and the Basic adjustment. The Penquin, Crow, and Baby Polar Bear are all from PixelSquid. To get the colors correct in this image, Topaz ReStyle was opened once back in PS and the Desaturated-Cool 1 preset was applied to get the cooler tones. Snow was brushed on by using Grut’s Inky Leaky brush set (these work great for this) and falling snow overlay provided by Shadowhouse Creations.
Image of penguin and polar bear in winter scene
Below is the original image taken of a portion of the waterfall at the entrance to the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens that was brought into AI ReMix. One ReMix adjustment was used on just the leaves in the foreground using a layer mask, another on the background only, and the last on the whole image at a lower opacity.
Original image used in the Penguin and Polar Bear imageI am not sure how they are really doing this, but it does give some interesting results. It does have a bit of a phone app feel to it, which I do not use often. They plan on releasing more image styles soon which should give a few more effects to use. To see what basically is happening in this adjustment, just be sure to update to Studio to 1.8.4 version and the adjustment will appear in your Adjustment list (icon will not be colored in). You do not have to get the trial to see what some of the results will look like. Click on the AI ReMix name and in the Preset drop-down field, click on one of the 5 choices included and also try changing the Opacity and blend mode for the adjustment – now you can see what it does to your image. Very unique results. To try out the adjustment for 30 days, click on the AI ReMix Adjustment and then click Try Pro at bottom of dialog panel – access to all the sliders will open up. Once activated there is a little indicator at the bottom of the adjustment panel that tells you how many days are left in your trial period.
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This big bird uses the same AI ReMix adjustment style duplicated twice and set to different blend modes inside Studio (click the settings icon to left of the trash can to find the duplicate command). The bird is from a set of photos I purchased from Deal Jumbo in a set called Amazing Wild Animals 2 from  images taken at South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. This guy sort of stood out to me. A Precision Contrast adjustment was first used in Studio where it was only applied to the bird by using a Studio layer mask. Then two identical AI Adjustments were stacked (located at Column 3/Row 4) – one set to Normal and one to Linear Dodge at 0.49 opacity. The bird was painted partially out using a 50% brush transparency. A Texture adjustment was also added and my Cat Painting Texture was applied.  (The texture had been already loaded into the Texture Adjustment – if you would like to download it, here is the link at DeviantArt. It is just a close up of neutral color oil paint strokes from a beautiful cat image.) Back in PS, just used some of my regular workflow to improve color and contrast. Pretty simple.Image of an African BirdThe task is to try and figure out what to do with the results so it does look artistic and not canned. And not all images work well with it. The other negative is that is makes my computer run pretty hard when several stacked adjustments. It looks better to me to stack a couple AI ReMix adjustments using different styles and settings. Topaz recommends trying out the Overlay blend mode for exaggerated saturation in the original image, Color blend mode to blend the photo and style colors together, and Luminosity blend mode for the highlights and shadows and makes the result less overdone in some cases. I am also finding that if I do not like the colors that the image becomes (even when starting with a black and white image it turns it into color), so a color converter needs to be used. My favorite is the Color Theme Adjustment where 5 individual colors can be changed. Also the HSL Color Tuning Adjustment will do some of this. Topaz has very nice mask tools that can remove parts in the image to give even greater control, especially by using a Mask Transparency  brush setting around 0.50 and removing some of the effect from skin. I am looking forward to the update that is promised to come very soon.

It took me a while to actually get good results since it changes the original photo so much, but it is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. Definitely worth clicking on the Adjustment and checking out the presets. I am sure this will become a very popular add-on once everyone learns how to use it correctly. I will be blogging on this more once the update is provided and try to do a quick video. Until then, I will just keep experimenting – it does seem to have some interesting possibilities! So glad Topaz is still coming up with new ideas for plugins – that is why they are right up there on my list of best filters!…..Digital Lady Syd


TOPAZ STUDIO – SHOULD I UPGRADE?

Image of colorful bikes at Flagler College Just enjoying a little Topaz Studio and trying to really understand the program. Bike image is from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. (See Image 1 below to see what Topaz Studio adjustments were used to get this effect.) Will be skipping a week of blogging. Several people are very confused and uncomfortable about upgrading. I understand the hesitation since the upgrade into the new Studio interface has not been easy to understand. From the software engineer’s perspective, it has probably been a nightmare since the various plug-ins do very different things and they have to be retooled to work together. Some of the Studio plug-ins have some good updates that really help the program. Others, maybe not so much. I can only say this, even if you update to Topaz Studio, you will have the Topaz Labs filters still available and can be used on a layer in PS as before. I use them often, mainly for one reason – all my personal presets are still in the Labs plug-ins and Topaz Studio cannot reproduce lots of them. With many of my presets I just have not had the time to update them.  Therefore, it is probably okay to upgrade to the free Studio interface since you will still have the Topaz Lab versions available in the Filter menu. And not only that, if you are in Studio and want to access one of the other plug-ins, just go to the Menu and select Plug-ins – they are also all there with their original interface. I find that having the Studio Clarity (the Precision Contrast adjustment) and Detail (the Precision Detail adjustment) available in one location is very handy – together they give some startling sharpness! And oddly enough, the actual Impression Adjustment has some decent beginning settings and the Painting Progress slider gives some very interesting results. If you download the free Topaz Studio (for download link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog), any Topaz plug-ins will be automatically added into the interface (PS lists this as Filter->Topaz Studio-> and the different types – while the Filter -> Topaz Labs are not touched). It will look different and some experimentation will need to be done, but there are lots of new options since the different adjustments from the different original plug-ins can be stacked to get even better looks.

List of Topaz Labs plug-ins currently added into Topaz Studio

At this point, here is a list of the filters that are now included in the Studio interface and which filters create the basic filter. If you owned the Topaz Labs filters, all the Studio adjustments filters will show up without buying the Pro Pack extra adjustments. To find the incorporated filters, need to go to the preset pop-out and click on the square icon with three horizontal lines in it. Set the Sort By to Featured. The first preset will indicate the Studio Adjustment workflow for each filter (for example, select Clarity and choose top preset called Clarity Workflow – the two adjustments to create the basic filter will be shown).

Clarity – Studio Adjustments are Precision Contrast and HSL Color Tuning (look at the Topaz Labs version and it is broken down into these two main components). Topaz did bring over my created presets with this filter and they also appear in the My Effects Group.

Detail – Adjustments include Precision Detail, Channel Mixer, and Basic Adjustment. (The Topaz Labs version was broken down into Detail and Tone, the Channel Mixer which is the Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green, and Yellow-Blue sliders, and the Basic Adjustment which basically contains the other Tone and Color sections’ sliders). Several of these I reproduced.

Glow – Adjustments include Glow, HSL Color Tuning, Vignette, and Smudge. (The Topaz Labs version has sections called Primary and Secondary Glow with same sliders that pop out in some cases in Studio, Color which is the same as the HSL Color Tuning, and Finishing Touches which includes the Smudge slider). None of my presets were brought over from the Labs version.

Impression – Only contains the Impression Adjustment. My presets were brought over from Topaz Labs and also appear in My Effects group.

Simplify – Contains Abstraction, Edges, and Quad Tone adjustments. None of my presets came over from Topaz Labs.

Textures – Contains the Basic Adjustment, Edge Exposure, and Quad Tone adjustments. No presets were brought over from Topaz Labs. They have added in new textures from 2 Lil Owls Studio and Hazel Meredith.

Image of Mountains from Unsplash and Jon FlobrantThis image contains exactly the same settings as the image above except a 2 Lil Owls Studio Texture Adjustment was added at the bottom of the stack. (See image below for more information.) Image from Unsplash and Jon Flobrant.

Image of Palm Trees from Castillo de San Marcos fortThis image is of some palm trees taken on the top of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida – the creative coloring was done in Topaz Studio. I find a lot of the tips for Studio by watching the videos Topaz Labs supplies. Even if you do not like what the presenter is creating, often you can get a couple good ideas for some presets that make for some good results. That is what happened on this one. First a preset that I made from some of the settings in Hazel Meredith’s video called Texture Effects and Topaz Studio that I named SJ Graphic Sketch 1 (it is available in the Community on line) – makes for a very nice black and white image. This was applied and a preset called Cartoon Grid from Topaz that gave the partial colored effect. (See Image 3 below for more information on this image.) I saved it down as a project file .tsp file, but it did not take. So at this point I am not sure this format is really safe to use. Luckily I had noted the settings.

I hope this has helped a few of you decide to try out Studio. It is a pretty nice program overall and it will get better as they add more Topaz Labs plug-ins and new features into it. But it will probably take a while to get it all finished I am sure. In the meantime, parts of it are really good. Have a very good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1: This image was first opened in Lightroom and just the Basic Panel was used before opening up in Photoshop. The next step was to duplicate the image and open Topaz Studio. These are the settings that were used: Precision Contrast: used Highlight Dynamic Range in dropdown; Abstraction: Used JWolfson Painting Prep in drop-down (Joel explains how to create this in his Topaz Labs video he did this week – I will add link when it is posted), then changed Simplify Size to 0.24; Impression SJ Colored Pencil preset: changed Stroke Width to -78, Stroke Length to -0.85, and spill -1.00, then set Texture to Solid; and used HSL Color Tuning – changed Orange Sat -0.40, Yellow Sat 0.55, Aqua Sat 0.63, and Blue Sat 0.39 and Lightness 0.13, and Details 0.50; Created Subtle Colored Pencil preset which is posted in the Community presets if you would like to use it. Back in PS, used a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Nick Viveza 2 to add a slight vignette in corners, and a Levels Adjustment Layer setting Output levels to 31/255 and regular settings 0/0.76/255 – gives the slight matte feel.

Image 2: The Unsplash image was opened in Topaz Studio stand alone program and used exactly the same steps above except the HSL Color Tuning sliders were used to adjust the colors in this image and a Texture from 2 Lil Owls was added at 28% layer opacity and Luminosity blend mode. It was opened in PS and the same steps as used above were done.

Image 3: Three images were taken into Aurora 2018 HDR from Lightroom to begin post-processing. This gave a really nice sharp image back in LR. It was then taken into PS and the background layer was duplicated. Brought image into STO from PS. First Version Applied Graphic Sketch L and set to Effect Opacity 0.53; Made a few slight changes to Basic Adjustment to Exposure -0.05, Clarity 0.52, Shadow -0.32, Highlight -0.50, Black Level -0.33 and White Level 0.68; Precision Contrast Opacity 0.88 and Multiply blend mode, Micro 0.18, Low 0.20, Medium 0.93, Lighting Shadow -0.31, Midtone 0.37, Highlight 0.47, Medium; Brightness Contrast Opacity 0.44, Brightness 0.29, Contrast 0.91, and Saturation -1.00; Tone Curve – left as set; Smudge Strength 0.11, Extent -0.34, and Sharpness 0.21; Bloom hooked to Smudge set to 0.70 opacity and Screen bm, Strength 0.40, Threshold 0.62, and Bloom size 0.25; Abstraction Color Space RGB, Simplify Size 0.41, Feature Boost 0.16, Detail Strength 0.20, Detail Boost 0, and Detail Radius 0.25 with Radiance set to Screen blend mode hooked to it, Radiance Type Dark, Strength 0.82, Width 0.29, Length 0.73, Curl 0, Suppress Weak 0.12, Sat 0.76, Coverage 1.00, Fade 0.11 and Sat 0; Duplicated this version and set same settings to Effect Opacity of 1.00. Created a preset called SJ Graphic Sketch I. Duplicated this version and applied the settings above. Then applied preset called Cartoon Gold with some changes: Brightness Contrast Adj: Contrast 1.54; Smudge Strength 0.10, Extent -0.38, and Sharpness 0.02; Abstraction Adj 0.58 layer opacity, Color Space RGB, Simplify Size 0.93 and Detail Radius 0.25; Dual Tone Opacity 0.29 and Saturation blend mode; Highlight Color 1.00, Highlight 0.16, Shadow Color 0.34, Shadow Hue 0.05, and Balance 0.45. Back in PS just my regular workflow: a Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer, Nik Viveza 2 to adjust color on the trees, and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode.