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Posts tagged “Color Efex Pro 4


Vintage image of the Colonial Hotel in Nassau.

I have been taking a break for a while – lots was going on with all the many Photoshop conferences and the new versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. Everyone seems to be using this one filter in PS – I can’t say that I blame them. It is turning out to be pretty cool! Since writing a blog called Wow! The New Improved Photoshop Neural Filter Colorize in August, the filter has gotten much more stable and works a lot smoother.

The above is an image of the old Colonial Hotel built in 1901 by Henry Flagler in Nassau, the Bahamas. The hotel burned down in 1922 and the British Colonial Hilton Hotel is now located on this area. The image is from (see original black and white). The area has some interesting history including scenes from the James Bond Movie Never Say Never Again! Thought I’d include this vintage 1918 postcard of the original hotel from Wikipedia. Wish I could have visited the original – it looks quite beautiful!

Postcard of the old Colonial Hotel in Nassau from 1913

For post processing on the top photo the relatively new PS Neural Filter Colorize was selected using just the preset called Retro-Faded. After applying the filter on a New Layer, a stamped (or composite) layer was created on top, and the Edit -> Sky Replacement command was used to add in a more interesting sky. On a new stamped layer, Color Efex Pro 4 was used to soften up the whole image to give an overall nice warm feeling (Ink, Darken/Lighten Center and Film Efex: Vintage filters were used). Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer for some image contrast.


Image of a Fountain sculpture of Neptune

Below you can see the image of Neptune was larger and what settings were used. (See my 1-minute video called Hilton Waikoloa Village Palace Tower Fountain for other fountain images taken a while ago – I have no idea who created it!) It was cropped down to emphasize the expression on Neptune‘s face (this guy had a bunch of children). It took a lot of steps but the color definitely came from the Colorization Neural Filter. Below is the original image in the Colorize Panel. Just the sliders were used this time.

Settings for the Colorization Neural Filter in Neptune image

The main objects were selected, which took quite a while due to the complexity of the subjects and many items had to be covered, removed or added to get a more unified feel in the image – just basic PS clean up. One of my painted backgrounds was used to give a more painterly old feel. An oldie-but-a-goodie filter was brought out to give the image a warmer feel – Topaz Lens Effect’s Gold Reflection filter was applied at 79% layer opacity – then some of the effect was painted out with a layer mask so it was not overdone. Finished up with the Camera Raw to adjust the colors a little more. But overall this is the color palette that was applied from the Colorization filter.


Colorized image taken from B&W image.

The above image was another black and white image of Bannack, Montana in 1942. I wanted to show that this image was colorized in the neural filter twice. First converting a duplicate of the original the black and whiter Background layer with the Output to New Color Layer checkbox on (see first screenshot below), and then using four Focal Points, three adding yellow to the dirt road and one to cool down the first hillside area (see second screenshot below). Back in PS the only other things done to the image were a Levels Adjustment Layer and a little bit of Dodging and Burning on the dirt road to define the edges.

Screenshot of the Neural Filter using the Output to New Color Layer checkbox.
Image of the Colorize Filter in PS using Focal Points.

As stated above PS has added a couple extra tweaks to the new PS 2022 upgrade and the filter no longer is crashing as much (also my brushes are working correctly again!) I did have one big program blow-out (PS just disappeared!) while adjusting the Focal Points, but when tried again it worked.

Still figuring out the other filters. It seems there needs to be a little more work done to get them working as good as the Colorize Filter. I did learn that if your Neural Filters keep crashing your system or shuts the filter down, you can delete the filter file and let Photoshop restore them when you restart the program. This fixed some of my errors with these filters, but not all. Here is the Adobe troubleshooting link.

Hope you have tried out this filter – it seems like it does have some very nice uses for the PS creative. It is nice to see PS adding a few new items to try out……Digital Lady Syd

How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images

I have been thinking about this subject ever since I bought some beautiful overlays from the French Kiss website. Their overlays are based on genuine old French letters and postmarks, but it seemed to me that it should be a fairly easy to create your own customized overlays. So this blog is about making your own overlays. The image above is of the pretty light purple Phlox Phloxy Lady flowers I had growing in my front yard and by adding texture and overlays to it, a soft romantic feel is created. This image used a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Flowers” and was a fairly easy example on how to start creating your own overlays. The steps below will guide you through this process.

The Basic Steps to Create a Text or Object Overlay (png) File for your Images.

1.  Create a New Document – I used an 8 X 10 inch document at 300 ppi.

2. If creating text, select the Text Tool, which creates a Text Layer on top of your Background Layer. In the Options Bar set your text color to Black for now (3rd icon over from right) and select an appropriate font. In the case above, the Old Script Font was chosen because the letters actually look like writing.

3. Type in your text. I like to use poetry quotes but use your own work for a real personal feel. Several different Text layers can be created using the same or different fonts. Add Clip Art layers or use a New Layer to paint in your own ideas – I find sticking to black a good idea and then adding color in later.

4. Once finished entering text and/or objects, turn off your background layer click on the eyeball on the left edge of the Layer in the Layers Palette. The image above just had one text layer, so it was duplicated and rasterized (right click on text layer and select rasterize so it is no longer a text layer). If more than one text or object layer is in the file, create a composite layer at top by highlighting the top layer and pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E so all the text or object layers are combined into one layer.

5. Now turn off all the eyeballs to the left of the layers except for the new top composite layer.

6. Here is the trick to getting this psd layer into a png file format to use as an overlay in your documents. Go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to Files. You need to set up a location for your new png file, name your file, and set the File Type to PNG-24. This takes a minute for Photoshop to process, but it eventually puts the png file where you told it to go, and takes you back to your original psd document with no changes made to it. If confused see my How To Make Frames or Borders blog, which uses the same basic process, where a screenshot of how this dialog box should look is provided.

How to Add the Overlay png File to an Image.

1. Open your document and go to Adobe Bridge to find your Overlay. Click on thumbnail, right click and choose Place -> In Photoshop.

2. Now adjust the handles and size (since the file comes in as a Smart Object layer, it works like the Free Transform command) and place the overlay where you want it. Double-click inside the overlay or click the checkmark in Options Bar to set the placement.

3. I always get rid of the Smart Object now by right clicking on the layer in the Layers Panel and select Rasterize Layer from the menu.

4. To change the overlay color go to Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color and be sure to check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. Select any color you want – I usually sample with the eyedropper that appears when hovering over the image to set the color of the text.

5. On the overlay layer, adjust the opacity or add a layer mask and paint with a low opacity brush in the mask to lighten part of the text. This was done on the image above to soften the look a little. Use Free Transform (CTRL+T) to resize, turn or move the overlay.
This vintage looking pink gerbera daisy that was growing on my porch was a perfect image to try out my own French overlay. First I had to make the overlay png file, then it was added to my final image. I would suggest that you check out the French Kiss website and/or Graphics Fairy website to get a feel on how to set up a custom overlay look. Create your overlay file by following The Basic Steps above. In my overlay, a fancy font called ExtraOrnamental No. 2 was used. The other font used is Easy Street Alt EPS. I found the filmstrip layer from my blog header and removed all the white from it as another layer. Some ornamentation was added using paintbrushes called 100 old ornaments–Buburu Resources – a New Layer was created and by rotating the direction of the brush, you can connect them to create some nice looking ornaments. Once you have all your layers set up, follow the steps in The Basic Steps section to create your png file. Keep you psd file so you can reuse the layers to create different but similar overlays. I did this for the last two images below. Follow the How to Use Overlay section to finish up your image. Four texture layers and a frame overlay were also used in the image above. The overlay was set to 66% opacity. Below is the png file as it appeared before adding to the flower image. …..Here is another example of using several overlays that I created. I began this image by creating a png overlay file out of some daisies I found in an old Clip Art book called Flower Illustrations by Dover Publications that I bought years ago (there are still many similar books available on Amazon very inexpensively and can be a really fun resource). The clip art is just black lines on white. The white was deleted from the clip art by using Select -> Color Range and clicking on all the white so just the black lines were selected. Then I duplicated the selection by going to CTRL+J and just the line art shows up on the layer. This layer was taken into the Export Layers to Files using Steps 5 and 6 in The Basic Steps section above. Now I started a new document and added my new png flower layer. I decided to Warp it using Free Transform (CTRL+T) and selecting Warp in the Options Bar. By pulling on the different lines, you can get some very interesting effects. I felt this image looked like it was now blowing in the wind. Next I added a New Layer above and just painted different colors in the petals and stem. By lowering the opacity of the png flower layer, the lines disappeared and showed just the flower contours. I decided to create a text overlay png new file as described in The Basic Steps section above so I could use it again. Some text from Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ In the Wind” was added using 1942 Report font in purple-pink and a new png file was created. It was brought into my original document – the second time it was applied, it warped using CTRL+T again to get the crazy flying type look. A layer mask was added so the text could be removed from the flowers. Then I decided I wanted to create my own grunge border. There are several ways to do this (see my my How To Make Frames or Borders blog). This time I used NIK Color Efex Pro 4‘s Image Border filter and set Size to -100, Spread to 100, all the way Rough, and Vary to 9165. Once back in Photoshop, I selected the border using Color Range and placed it on its own layer. I cleaned up the lines using a fine black line and saved it down as a .png file so I can use it again. As you can see, there is a lot of repetition in this process. Not that difficult once you get a selection of what you want. I experimented with several different background colors and did add a soft white hazy look by painting on a layer using Nakatoni Texture Brush (I still cannot find them anymore) at a low opacity.
This yellow mum shot uses the sames steps as the gerbera daisy image – a different line of text was added and several other elements removed from the same overlay psd file. Once the png file was added to the image, a Layer Style was applied to the png overlay layer using Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow effects. The Outer Glow was spread out with a darker color to make the letters stand out a little better.
…..This final example took yet another arrangement of other the text. Once the png file was brought into the image, it was warped to get the old look. Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 was used to get the vintage look. You can get really creative with the overlay layer effects.

Just remember to create a composite of all the layers to include in your overlay and save just that layer as a png. This is such a simple process, but it looks hard. Be sure when you do download a font that you understand what the usage requirements for that font are – just because you can download them does not mean they are free for all uses. This romantic French effect seems to lend itself nicely to flowers and soft texturized images. In my Tidbits Blog Displacing an Overlay I show you how to displace your overlay onto a textures background to give it a real vintage look. Also, check out my newer blog How To Create an Overlay Out of a Texture for more fun overlay tricks. Try making an overlay – it is fun to do!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Checking Out French Kiss Textures
A Vintage Butterfly Postcard Effect

Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4

Yep, it can actually do a pretty nice job of creating an HDR effect. I am providing you with the information needed to get the same effect so here we go. The image above is of the inside of one of the most beautiful libraries you will ever see, the Minsk Library in Belarus. I love the results and how Color Efex Pro 4 (CEP4) has turned this image into a reasonable HDR look with just a single image.

To create this effect, the following steps were done:

1. First process the image in Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) or Lightroom to adjust tone and contrast. On four of these images, I used my SJ-Vivid Drawing Look preset as a starting point. Gives a nice starting point for a pseudo HDR effect.” Then adjust the exposure or any other settings to get the feel you want. (To get the actual settings, see my Tidbits Blog “Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR & Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe.”)

2. Next, either open the image as a Smart Object directly from ACR or Lightroom, or convert a duplicate layer to a Smart Object (right click on layer and choose “Convert to Smart Object.”) before opening the plug-in. This is really an important step since CEP4 will save your settings and control points when working on a Smart Object layer.

3. Go to Filters -> NIK -> Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in. My SJ Pseudo HDR1 recipe can be downloaded here. NOTE: Appears the link will not work if the download button is pressed directly, but if you right click it and select “Save Link As”, it will download. (To import, go to the Recipes section on left and at bottom click on the Import button, then navigate to file – it is put in the Imported section, or put the file in this folder for Windows Users: [User Name]\AppData\Local\Nik Software\Color Efex Pro 4\UserPresets). The Detail Extractor may need to be adjusted, especially if the image has too many artifacts or too much noise – try setting the Effect Radius to Large in this filter. Other filter effects may be added such as a Vignette or Color Effects. For settings, click on my Tidbits Blog link above in Step 1.

4. Press OK button to apply the filters . If you do not like the results or want to add another filter, change settings by double-clicking on the actual plug-in name (Color Efex Pro 4) underneath the Smart Object layer. If you click on the symbols to the right of the line, a Blending Options (Color Efex Pro 4) dialog box appears where the opacity and blend mode of the plug-in results can be changed. (Try this out to get  some more interesting effects.) Can also paint with black on the Smart Filters layer mask to reduce the effect of all the filters applied to the layer.

5. A noise filter may need to be applied at this point. It can be done right on the Smart Object layer – the filter will be added on top of the Color Efex Pro filter. Not all images need it, but it can happen whenever you are doing an HDR type effect. (If you do not have a noise reducer, the image can be brought back into ACR by using Dr. Brown’s script as explained in my blog “Edit Layers with ACR Script” and using the Noise Reduction panel – I do this all the time and it works great!)

Basically your image is finished unless you want to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust contrast or add a layer style stroke or border around the outside.  Many resources say to sharpen the image at this point – try it but watch your noise carefully.

Once you have the Pseudo HDR1 recipe in place, it is very easy to get good results. Just remember to use a Smart Object so you can go in afterwards and tweak a slider or two or add another filter to the stack if you want.


This Tower of London image was first processed in Lightroom using the SJ Vivid Drawing Look preset. Once in Photoshop but before going into CEP4, clouds were added onto a layer above the image from my SJ-Clouds brush set, and then a layer mask was created to paint out any overlap. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) which was immediately converted into a Smart Object. This image was created using my recipe as in the first image, but then a Bi-Color User Defined filter was added to make the sky and clouds bluer (Upper color a blue R94/G111/B155 and Lower color off-white R192/G192/B192) – it started as an ugly gray.


Another good example of what you can do with just one image in CEP4. This image just used the Pseudo HDR1 recipe. I did adjust the Detail Extractor slider in that filter and that’s it! The original image was adjusted a bit in Lightroom using no preset before bringing into Photoshop. The image was taken at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Oahu, Hawaii.

This beautiful Great Egret was processed in Lightroom with the SJ Vivid Drawing Look preset and then in Photoshop using NIK’s CEP4 plug-in and the recipe provided, but also adding Vignette Blur and Vignette filters. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was added to selectively sharpen just the bird.

This image (of me and my photography buddy, Gary, at the Old Drugstore in St. Augustine) uses the same Lightroom Vivid Drawing Look preset and CEP4 Pseudo HDR preset. I am actually shooting into a huge mirror on the wall!

I really wanted to present the range of images that can be converted into a fairly convincing HDR effect with just one image. I hope you get a chance to try this recipe out and see what you think. This may be the easiest way to get that pseudo-HDR look that I have found! I will show several other examples over the next few weeks – it is really easy to do and gives a nice look to just about any picture. Once again, it goes to show why this updated plug-in from NIK is really great!

Hope you enjoy the recipe and let me know what you think!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Blog Links by Digital Lady Syd (or click under Categories – HDR Effect):
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
Another Pseudo HDR Image with NIK CEP4 – Got to Love the Effect!
Pseudo HDR in OnOne Perfect Effects
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter From NIK CEP 4
Digital Landscape Effects with Nik Software
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – First Try!
With One Good Photo – Try the Pseudo HDR Effect