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10 NOT SO WELL KNOWN PHOTOSHOP TIPS

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

Add Noise to Bring an Image Together

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

Overscrolling

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

Rotate View Tool

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

Printing Out the Steps to an Action

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

Preparing Image for Web

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

When Scanning Old Photos – What Resolution is Needed?

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

Adjusting Skin Tones That Do Not Look Quite Right

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

Select and Mask Command

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

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

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

Merging Layers and Blend Mode Issues

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

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

History Log Metadata

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

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

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

QUICK AND EASY PHOTOSHOP PAINTING FUN!

Image of an egret at Sea World OrlandoRecently I purchased a video class called Quick & Easy Digital Painting Like a Professional by Kristen Palana from Udemy. Not sure how often I will use the technique, but it was a lot of fun. The image above was taken during a show for the seals at SeaWorld Orlando a few years ago. This was actually a live egret walking along the fence. Kristen’s techniques create an underpainting layer, a regular painting layer, a drawing layer, and an effect layer, at a minimum. She tells you what brushes to use and how to paint the layer effects. On the above, all of her steps were not followed, but it has her illustrative look to it. On the Spoonbill image (from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery) below, I tried to follow all the steps. I still do not quite get similar results, but I did learn a few new painting techniques and created a couple new brushes to use for my own style. She does supply an image to work along with her and that was very helpful. I like to try out the different procedures as they are presented. Overall it was a lot of fun to do. The Spoonbill image also used on top French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) texture Atelier Canvas Overlay set to Vivid Light blend mode and 37% layer opacity to get the canvas effect, and a Matt Kloskowski vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog).

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryYou may not be a professional after trying this tutorial, but good results can be obtained with a just a little effort. The instructions are not too difficult to understand, and if you make the brushes as she explains, the images end up with a nice illustrative feel to them. Kristen’s technique is great for illustrating books. I thought the postcard effect was kind of nice. The process seems to create a little vintage feel in the images. One thing I learned is that by using a drawing layer, many areas of an image can be emphasized or short-comings on the painting can be diminished. This will be useful for all types of painting techniques. On the Spoonbill, the line drawing effect was greatly reduced but on the top image, it had more of an emphasis. If you want to have some plain ole’ painting fun, this is a nice little video. Watch Udemy’s website as they often have big savings on their videos – it is a great place to pick up all kinds of Photoshop and Photography instruction. Hope everyone in the US is having a great holiday – see ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd

A LITTLE TOPAZ TEXTURE EFFECTS TIP

Close-up image of an Oleander FlowerIt has been a busy week as CreativeLive has had their 5th Photoshop Week and it was really good! There were lots of interesting classes covering all kinds of Photoshop uses. Plan on getting some new tips and tricks together to present soon on my blog. This week I am showing my pretty little Oleander flower growing in my yard. This flower was shot using with my Lensbaby Composer at F/4 using a Macro +4 Lens, which is why it was so soft and wispy looking. There is a newer version of this lens, but mine seems to still work well, especially on macro shots. I would recommend your trying one out if you get a chance.

In Lightroom just the Basic exposure and contrast sliders were adjusted. Then the image was taken into Photoshop and Topaz (for website see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar) Impression was opened using one of my presets (SJ Watercolor like effect on bldgs. – click link for settings at bottom of blog.) Some Mixers and Regular brushes were used to smooth out the background and paint the actual petals. Added one of my textures on top set to Soft Light blend mode at 62% layer opacity. One of Kim Klassen’s older beige textures was then added and set to Multiply blend mode. A Blue Luminosity Curve was created and an S curve was used to increase contrast.

Now to the Topaz Texture Effects 2 tip. In the above image, the plugin was used to only add two stacked light leaks. Presets are just a guidelines for effects that can be added, but this is not where the power lies in this plugin. By clicking up in the top right-hand corner in the box that says New and than Add Adjustment, all kinds of choices are opened up. To add the two Light Leaks in this image, the Light Leak section was added twice, once for each leak added. It was then saved as a preset since I liked the effect of how the two leaks blended. There are 13 different section types that can be added as often and in any order as needed. Only one light leak can be applied and that may be all that is needed in your image. Could use just a diffusion effect, or several texture sections, or only the Double Exposure section for your image. Texture Effects has so many sections with so many sliders and a great masking capability with blend modes, making it easy to tweak the individual sections once opened in the plugin. It is a bit like using Lookup Tables in Photoshop, but much more flexible.

To finish up this image, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to add some blue tones to the shadows by adding blue to the Black color. The flower does really light up! I would recommend you try out Texture Effect’s different sections without using a texture to see what fabulous capability this plugin has built into it. Be back next week with some new tips!…..Digital Lady Syd

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Image of a Cape Griffon Vulture Mom and Baby at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWhile visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, I decided to take a spin around some of their other exhibits and see what was going on. In fact that is where the An Army Tortoise Tidbits Blog image started. Well not only are the Florida birds having babies, but so are some other bird inhabitants, the Vultures – in fact there were two chicks born in recent months.  Above is a wonderful Cape Griffon Vulture baby boy chick born on March 4th.  For some reason he is being raised by a foster mom (Sefara as seen in the image) and foster dad (Kwa) – I can honestly say they keep all the other birds away from him. He is only one of four hatched chicks in North America and all were born here. Below is a family portrait of the Hooded Vulture chick with her family. This baby was very quiet and I could hardly see her in my camera, but apparently she had spotted me. This baby girl was born on February 24rd and is sitting with her parents Ashaki and Bosco (the adult bird that acts a lot like her mother). It looks like the dad is wearing a tux quietly in the background!  Both vulture species are on the Endangered Species list. Lots of noise going on in this exhibit!
Enough about the birds – they are just so fascinating! Not a lot was done to the Cape Griffon Vulture image other than my overall workflow with a pretty good dose of Topaz (for website link, see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to pop those feathers just a little. (Here are the settings used – apply to images that are a little soft in places, especially on birds and their feathers: Small Details 0.60, Small Details Boost 0.12, Med Details 0.22, Med Details Boost 0.22, Large Details -0.02, Large Details Boost -0.08. I called this preset SJ Add Detail. Add a black layer mask (click in white mask and press CTRL+I) to the layer after exiting out of the plug-in and just paint back where needed in the image. Use a large low opacity brush like 20% and build up the effect to make it look natural; use a smaller brush on dark lines that need to be more emphasized. It is easy to overdo this so try adjusting the layer opacity to reduce the effect.) Used a couple Exposure Adjustment Layers on the eyes and beaks (see my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog), and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focus more onto the chick and less on the Mom. Used Matt Kloskowski’s subtle vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog). A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to emphasize just a couple colors in the image, keeping it mainly in a light sepia tone. Birds can be tricky when shooting – it seems like they are perfectly still, but they actually are moving a little bit of a wing or foot or something. When you get ready to process their images, it is easy to see. Birds are pretty amazing and agile.

For the Hooded Vulture Family portrait below, pretty much the same work process but without the desaturating effect. This image was actually not as good since they were way off to the side and I had to do a massive crop. Not much of the Topaz Detail 3 plugin effect was added into this image – just in a few places like with the dark area of the back bird and a few of the Mom’s  bird feathers.
Image of a Hooded Vulture Family with the chick at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWell hope everyone is celebrating a great Mother’s Day or at least giving your Mom’s a call! We only get one day a year to enjoy the kids we are so proud of, just like the Cape Griffon Vulture and Hooded Vulture Moms!…..Digital Lady Syd

GIVING A VINTAGE YOUNG LADY A NEW APPEARANCE

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

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

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

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

SOME WATERCOLOR FUN!

View from Stirling Castle in ScotlandJust another quick post to pass on a pretty nifty short tutorial that Chris Spooner at Spoon Graphics posted this week. It is called How to Create a Water Painting Effect in Photoshop and it was pretty easy to follow. I have tried it out on a couple different images using different paper, painting brushes, and a few different filters after applying the ones he suggested. Since a Smart Object is created to get the base effect, images can be swapped out without changing the rest of the set up or border once created.

This image is one I took from Stirling Castle in Scotland. After applying the filters and adding a layer mask, a border was created using the McBad Brush 30 that Chris links to in his post for creating the watercolor effect border. In the Brush Panel, try changing the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of the brush to something pretty high like 70% to get some nice edge work on the border. For this image, a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer (with the Paper border layer turned off) was created on top of the layers but underneath the border paper. Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression 2’s Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset was applied and set to, of all things, Division blend mode at 0.50 opacity. It gave the image more of an overall watercolor effect. I think many of the Impression presets would work well with this technique. A New Layer was added and using Grut I Dusty Covet Brush, lines around the tops of the buildings were sketched in to add a bit of realism and definition to the roofs – then lowered the layer opacity to 80%. On another stamped layer (with the paper layer off) Topaz ReStyle was applied – this time I had a preset created a while ago, but there were probably 20 presets that looked good on it. It seemed to even out the colors that in the final image. To give the image a real watercolor look, Grut’s W Mud Puddle Watercolor Brush was used to extend out the edges of the image into the border with strokes and paint in some solid roof colors and tree areas. As a side note, Nicolai at GrutBrushes has some really good things going at his brush site: a free brush every week (I definitely take advantage of this as different media brushes are presented), a free Photoshop Brushes Sampler with lots of nice brushes and a free Watercolor Brush called Cherry Pectin that is also in the sampler. The Cherry Pectin brush would have worked great for painting border edges also. I think this made a huge difference from the slightly canned look the original tutorial supplied. The image was way too vivid for my taste as a watercolor, so a New Layer was filled with white above and set to 16% layer opacity to calm it down a bit. The last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the orange buildings in the lower left corner and the painted bridge.

Well, still taking it easy but wanted to share – hope you get a chance to try out this technique. Chris Spooner has several nice tutorials on his site you might also like. Later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Painting Effects from Actions-Part 1
A Little Watercolor Fun

ENJOYING THE VIEW (At the Rookery)

Image of a Wood Stork at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryThis large Wood Stork was definitely enjoying himself as he posed for the bird paparazzi at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, and the other Wood Storks from his perch. This big bird actually held his balance very well up on that little branch – pretty amazing! Well I know I am taking a couple weeks off from blogging but thought I would add this short blog to let you know I am still around. Most of this image was actually post-processed in my old Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 without any problems. Just duplicated the background layer and opened Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 to add some sharpness to the whole bird. Added on top 2 Little Owls (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Workbook Texture 4 which gave the plain blue sky a beautiful effect. Jay Johnson’s free Flying Bird png2 file was added in the top and set to 44% with a Pattern Fill Layer added to add some softness to the bird color. An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eye. Then added a grunge brush png layer i created and applied just around the stork. This layer was set to Overlay blend mode at 25% layer opacity. Then popped into regular Photoshop CC2017 to add a Red Channel Luminosity Curve Layer and Nik Viveza 2. Very easy and enjoyed trying out my old program for a change. See ya in a couple more…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just a Day at the Rookery!
Building a Nest for the Future

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