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Posts tagged “Detail

More Clarity on Topaz Clarity

Since I have been trying Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Clarity for a few weeks, I thought I would just pass on some of my recent image results. I am using this plug-in more now that I have created a few of my own presets for a starting point with the sliders. So far I have not had a reason to selectively apply it – although a few times I have taken out a sky so it is not affected. The yellow gerberas above provides one of the sentiments that I base this blog on – playing in Photoshop! The image used Topaz Clarity twice, and then I went back to the original background layer and processed it using Topaz Detail without the Clarity layers included. It was then placed on top and a layer mask allowed the Topaz Clarity results to pop through. Then just some textures, text and fancy brushes. Total Fun! For specific information how I processed this image, check out Image 1 at end of blog.
…..This is one of my favorite images from Belarus I took several years ago. This time Photoshop’s HDR Toning was applied first, then Topaz Clarity and Detail. The last step was to add a light pink overlay from Kim Klassen – all this resulted in this magical effect. See end of blog for Image 2 settings.
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The image below represents some of the tools used on a the windmill above. I thought I would show how the image will differ when a Topaz plug-in is used without Clarity applied first, and when it is applied before the other plug-ins. Below is what the image looked like with just the Enabling Profile Corrections and Removing Chromatic Aberration checked – basically a RAW file. The right image is after using Topaz Clarity on the image. See Image 3 notes below for the exact settings if you would like to see them.
Now this next image shows both Topaz Simplify with a preset I had created a long time ago that I call Nice Soft Pastel Effect. I selected it as it really shows what a different look you can get with Simplify on an image. For settings used, check out Image 4 at end of blog.
BelowTopaz Black & White Effects plug-in was applied – another one of my very favorites. This plug-in always produces absolutely incredible results and was recently updated to add most of the interface features Clarity has. The preset used was Platinum III. You can really see what a nice job Clarity did to enhance this black and white image.
The last image is Topaz Adjust with my personal favorite preset, French Countryside. I don’t know why, but this preset has the look that I really like on images.  I would probably print this one as it gives a little bit of that vintage feel the log cabin building exerted, but still has the nice country colors in it. As you can see, adding Clarity first can really change the whole look to your image. I would recommend trying both ways if you are having problems getting a plug-in to look the way you want it to. It may need Clarity to boost the contrast in a very natural way. Well, if you have not tried out this new plug-in from Topaz, you might want to give it a whirl. Check out my related blog links at the very bottom for more info on using this plug-in. It adds that very subtle contrast to an image that I really love, and am finding I am using it more and more!……Digital Lady Syd

Notes for Images:
Image 1: Just the little processing in Lightroom (Cropping, Lens Correction and Defringe) before opening in Photoshop. The background was duplicated and Topaz Clarity was opened and only changes to the Clarity section were applied. (Settings include:  Dynamics settings – Micro Contrast 0.91, Low Contrast 0.53, Medium Contrast -0.86, and High Contrast -0.48; Tone Level settings – Black Level 0.56, Midtones -0.16, and White Level 0.28; and HSL Filter – Hue: Orange -0.11, Yellow -0.02, Green -0.05, and Overall 0.09; Sat: Red -0.03, Orange 0.02, Yellow 0.17, Green 0.03, Blue 0.27, and Overall 0.11; and Lum: Red 0.16, Orange 0.30, Yellow 0.55, Green 0.50, Blue -1.00, and Overall 0.08.) Once applied the layer was duplicated in Photoshop and Topaz Clarity was opened up again. (Settings are the same for the Clarity section above. HSL Filter – Hue: Orange 0.52, Orange -0.30, Yellow -0.31, Green -0.05, and Overall 0.09; Sat: Red -0.03, Orange -0.62, Yellow -0.37, Green -0.27, and Blue 0.27; and Lum: Red 0.30, Orange -0.67, Yellow 0.20, Green -0.39, Blue -1.00, and Overall 0.08.) The Background layer was duplicated again and this time Topaz Detail was applied. (The settings: Detail Section – Overall, Small Details -1.00, Small Details Boost 0.00; Medium Details -1.00, Medium Details Boost 0.00, Large Details -1.00, and Large Details Boost 0.00; Tone Section – no changes; and Color Section – Temperature -0.27, Tint 0.34, Saturation -0.65, and Saturation Boost 0.21.) This layer was moved above the top Clarity layer and a layer mask was applied. The yellow flowers and center were lightly painted out in the mask so the detail from the Clarity layers showed through. Next a Darken layer was created (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog). This time I used a dark brown brush sampled from the image instead of a dark black brush. 2 Lil’ Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Color Bokeh-Grunge Set – 3 was added as a layer on top and set to Hard Light blend mode and 100% opacity. A layer mask was added to remove a little bit of the texture from the centers of the flowers. French Kiss Artiste Old Master texture was placed next and set to Soft Light at 73% opacity. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to lighten up the image a little by moving the Midtones slider to the left. Two text layers were created – one using Rough Typewriter and one using Batik Regular and the opacities of both reduced almost halfway. My free SJ Cloud 1 (actually taken while on the International Coastal Waterway in St. Augustine, Florida) was set to 4300 pixels was added in a New Layer on top. Shadowhouse Creations free Bird brush 7 was added on another New Layer and set to 30% opacity. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer where I just dragged down in the image to get the right tone.

Image 2: In Lightroom David duChemin’s New Maasai Split Tone preset was applied along with some basic slider adjustments. In Photoshop’s HDR Toning, the Vibrance was set to +100, Saturation +100, and Detail +100. I had thought I might try to make this a painting, and I still might, so these settings were used to enhance the image. A duplicate of the image was created and Topaz’s new Clarity plug-in was applied. These were the setting used: Dynamics – Micro Contrast 0.98, Low Contrast 0.42, Medium Contrast 0.22, and High Contrast -0.37; Tone Level – Black Level -0.23, Midtones -0.19, and White Level 0.06; and HSL Filter – Hue Green slider set to -0.30, Saturation sliders: Red 0, Orange -0.47, Yellow 0.36, Green 0.47, Aqua 0, Blue -0.12, Purple 0, Magenta 0, and Overall 0.11; and Luminosity sliders: Red -0.72, Orange 0.11, Yellow 0, Green 0.19, Aqua 0.55, Blue 0.10, Purple 0.66, Magenta -0.05, and Overall 0. Next Topaz Detail was applied to a duplicate layer setting the Overall Detail to 0.78 and Red 0.40. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was put on top and Cyans were set to Hue 41, Saturation 5, and Lightness 31, and Blues set to Hue -13, Saturation -37, and Lightness 1. A Darken Layer was created and set to Overlay blend mode to burn in some of the clouds. Kim Klassen’s beautiful Cloth & Paper Texture Touch was used – an overlay had been created using it and it was set to Normal blend mode at 77% opacity. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back into the whole image. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.)

Image 3: The Topaz Clarity plug-in was opened and I started with Street Scene Strong Contrast. Changed several settings to: Dynamics: Micro Contrast  1.00, Low Contrast  0.30, Medium Contrast  -0.34, and High Contrast  -1.00; Tone Level: Black Level  -0.14, Midtones  0, and White Level -0.44; and HSL Filter: Hue – Red -0.83, Orange 0.10, Yellow 0, Green 0.10, Aqua -0.29, Blue -0.83, Purple -0.10, and Magenta -0.17;  Sat – Red 0.06, Orange 0.17, Yellow 0.94, Green 0, Aqua 0.78, Blue 0.27, Purple 0, and Magenta 0.38; Hue – Red 0.61, Orange 0, Yellow -0.45, Green -0.12, Aqua -0.36, Blue 0.06, and all the rest 0. Named preset Balanced Contrast. That is all that was done at this point.

Image 4: The Topaz Clarity settings are the same as those in Image 3. The Simplify plug-in used these settings: Global Adjustments: Simplify – YCbCr, Simplify Size 0.27, Feature Boost 0, Details Strength 0, Details Boost 1.00, Details Size 0.20, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.31; Adjust – Brightness 0.10, Contrast 1.48, Saturation 1.70, Saturation Boost 1.24, Dynamics 0.36, Structure 3.33, and Structure Boost 0.67; and Edges – Edge Type Color Edge-Normal, Edge Strength 0.00, Simplify Edge 0.30, Reduce Weak 10.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0; and Finishing Touches: Tone – Color 1 Region (R0G0B0) slider 0, Color 2 Region (R54G27B9) slider 100.0, Color 3 Region (R170G135B136) 180.0, and Color 4 Region (R255G255B255) slider 255.0; and Tone Strength 0.46.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Clarity
Clarity with Texture!
Pretty in Pink! with Topaz Clarity
Some Vintage Zinnias


Topaz Simplify Artistic Workflow

Been under the weather this week so I thought I would just go through my basic Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify 4 workflow. Nothing too fancy, but always a lot of fun to work with Simplify. The image above is a composite of a variegated leaf from Hawaii and the body of a Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly that was in my penta flowers. The butterfly body was selected and placed on its own layer before moving into the leaf image. On a composite image some of the colors in the leaves were swapped around using the new Topaz Clarity and then Topaz Simplify 4 was applied using my Tulip Preset to get the pretty colors. (The preset settings if you would like them are as follows: oost 0, Details Strength .80, Details Boost 1.29, Details Size 0.96, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.2o; Adjust: Brightness 0.02, Contrast 1.11, Saturation 0.60, Saturation Boost 2.06, Dynamics 0, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges – Color Edge: Normal, Edge Strength 0.00, Simplify Edge 0.60, Reduce Weak 24.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0.00.) While still in Simplify, another preset was applied, Sketch -> Pastel II preset with Transparency: Overall Transparency set to 0.52. The layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur was added to soften the details in the background. With a layer mask, the leaf and butterfly were painted back. On another composite layer, the wings effect was created using the CS6 Oily Classic Blender #4 Mixer Brush to smooth out the rough edges that are a dead give-away that you used Simplify. Just put an OnOne PhotoFrame effect on image (this program is no longer available) and FrenchKiss Studio 3 WhiteWash texture set to Soft Light to give a painterly effect. There were a few other steps and tweaks to get the color pop but overall it followed the workflow below. I love using the Mixer Brushes – always adds that more realistic feel to the Simplify images.
…..This may not be the perfect photo, and obviously I was not that enamored with it until Lightroom 5 came out with their Upright correction, but the more I looked at this image, the more interesting it was. And the color in the image turned out to be quite striking. Below you can see what is going on with all the people. What a treasure trove! You can see all kinds of activities and expressions with just the people in front of this busy cathedral. Very cool!
This follows one of my pretty basic workflows for getting a crisp artistic look to an image, not exactly painterly, but not a photographic effect either.

  • After using Lightroom to straighten up the image at least to an acceptable amount, the image was cleaned up in Photoshop and a sharpener added for clarity of the detail lines. Now is a good time to use both Topaz DeNoise and Detail – I use them both before doing any real painting or filtering of an image.
  • Next Topaz Simplify 4 is used starting with one of their presets, changing it, and saving as my own preset if I like the results and think I would want to use it again. The above images used this preset: Used Painting -> Watercolor preset as a starting point, then adjusted the following settings. Simplify: Color Space YCbC4, Simplify Size 0.46, Feature Boost 1, Details Strength 1.87, Details Boost 0.20, Details Size 0.58, Remove Small 0.10 and Remove Weak 0.20; Adjust: Brightness 0.02, Contrast 0.82, Saturation 0.85, Saturation Boost 2.06, Dynamics 0, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Turned off Edges Section.
  • A layer mask is added to the Simplify layer and areas are painted out where more detail was to be added.
  • A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer is added to adjust colors, green in the above case.
  • A New Layer is created and a Regular or Mixer Brush is selected, an artistic feel is added to the image. Above I used CS6 Oily Classic Blender Mixer Brush #4 (found in the CS6 Mixer Brush Tool Presets when Mixer Brush Tool is selected) for the tree branches to give a more “painterly” look to the image – this brush is excellent for smoothing out jagged edges on any of your images. The opacity of that layer was then set to 46%
  • Another New Layer was created to paint out distractions like wrong colors on white that draws the eye.

The last step for the Cathedral image was to add another a Hue/Sat Adj Layer to get rid of purple color in sign on Church (used a black layer mask and painted back just the sign in white). To see a different way I processed the same image, check out my Tidbits Blog called Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section.
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Used exactly the same workflow above except in the Topaz Simplify 4 preset, I also checked the Tones section and set the Tone Strength to .67. Some of the grasses did not look natural, so with a 30% soft black brush, parts of the detail in the grasses were painted back to give a more natural look and not so computer generated feel. I find Topaz does seem to do this if you do not get the Simplify slider set just right – that is OK because you will probably want to clean it up in Photoshop a little anyway. The Hue/Saturation Level was set to Colorize and a yellow color used (Hue 298/Saturation 63/Lightness -23). Then a Pastel Brush was used to paint the white blow out daisy flowers that now look yellow, with a couple pink colors to add interest. Several New Layers were created and the petals and edges of the petals were painted using pastel brushes with texture added and the Pencil Tool Watercolor Salt brush to paint around the edges of the flowers to give some additional texture to the flowers. This time two of Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures were added on top – 2 for Friday Set 5 Green Lake texture set to Soft Light at 77% opacity, and Set 2 Creamsicle set to Pin Light at 37% opacity. Both had a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to them with the Saturation slider to -100 so no color, just texture, was added to the image. I used my free Default SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style to finish up.
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Just one final image using the same workflow. This is a lovely little dasha in the countryside near the city of Minsk in Belarus – definitely has that fairytale look to it. The Simplify preset used was the Painting -> Dynamic Boost Warm preset, where the Simplify Size was set to 0.37, the Feature Boost to 2, and the Vignetting was turned off. I used OnOne’s PhotoFrame instead. On the Simplify layer, a layer mask was added and with a black soft brush set to 30% opacity, the detail was added back into the area where it was needed to keep it from looking too cookie-cutter. Used the Mixer Brush layer to clean up a few things. Some Curves, Levels, and Hue/Saturation Adjustments Layers to balance out everything and that was it!

It takes a while to get a really good look, but the plug-in definitely helps get you started. Hope this gives you a little bit of a workflow to help get started using this plug-in effect if you have not tried it before. I really love this plug-in – it is easy to use and easy to fit into an artistic workflow. I am not sure there are any other plug-ins on the market that do exactly what this one does. Lots of fun!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture
Using Topaz Simplify for That Artistic Feel!
Painterly Effect using Topaz Detail and Simplify
Topaz Simplify and Lens Effects Saves an Image!


Digital Lady Syd’s Artistic Flair!

This week I am just doing a post for the above image only – it took a long time to complete and I thought I would go over the workflow I used to create this rather current look. I have seen very similar images of  famous cities around the world in large poster format. This is an image of the street outside the London Bridge Station in Southwark, London (Boroughs High Street). I took this shot, without getting run over for some reason, during a Scott Kelby PhotoWalk where I joined a British group. It was a total blast and if you have not participated in his PhotoWalks, it is definitely worth the time – great way to meet local fellow photographers and it is free. Below is the original image – I thought you might find that interesting. Not an image that would normally catch my eye.
So how do you get the final image effect? The original image was a good choice for starters since street scenes lend themselves nicely for this look – this particular image has lots of color and detail in it before doing anything to it. Lightroom 5 was used to do a couple things. In the Lens Correction section the new Upright function using the Auto button was first selected. This straightened the image up instantly. The next important thing to do was the crop. After that was done, just minor tone adjustments were made before it made its way into Photoshop. I am finding I use the Auto Upright button on almost all my images now. (See my Tidbits Blog Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section.)

I decided I wanted a painterly look so the first place I went was to Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Simplify 4 – this filter gives so many options and presets to try out different looks on your images. Here is what I did to get the image below. In Simplify the Oil Painting B&W preset was applied with the overall transparency set to 0.15 – the opacity of the Simplify layer was reduced to 69%. A white layer mask was added to bring back the detail to all the people’s faces. One of my favorite texture people, Kim Klassen‘s Gentle Whisper texture was added on top and set to Soft Light blend mode at 35% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next with a very slight drag down on the curve to increase the contrast a little. I thought I was done and below is what I had created. It was starting to look pretty interesting.

I came back to the image a few days later and just started playing around with it. I actually did three other iterations before I got the final look I wanted. The final image was completed by first adding several steps to the file above, then flattening and finishing up on a different file – this was mainly because the file size was getting too large to handle.

Three layers were added to the second image file using three different grunge brushes and painting different colors into different parts of the image. I used a pinkish-red color for three strips, a light tan on a few of the distant buildings, and pink for the top edge where the bridge bottom shows. It really is not too hard to experiment around and get the look you want. I did use a Burlap texture with the brush to get a nice rough edge. Just be sure you put each color on a separate New Layer so you can play with the opacity and color after the fact. Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Overall Strong Detail II setting – normally I would not use that much but a black layer mask was applied and just the signs were painted back sharp. The Detail was run again to get sharper edges where I needed them. When I do this, I paint on the mask using a 60 pixel brush set to 30% opacity – in fact this brush I use all the time. A New Layer was created to paint out the license plate numbers – just sampled the solid area and painted over them. This is the end of the first file. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and saved. The image below is where I am now at.

To get the final effect, the image had to be opened in Photoshop CS5 so Mike’s Kill White filter could be run from Adobe’s Pixel Bender filter which only runs on CS4 and CS5. This is one of the main reasons I have left CS5 on my computer. It is still the best filter for removing white in my opinion, and the one using Pixel Bender is better than their regular filter, which will now run on CS6-32 bit only. (Try removing the white in a layer and applying different layer styles or filters to it to get different effects.) Moving right along now, this file was opened in CS6-64 bit where I merged all but the top Kill White layer. On the Kill White layer, that shows holes were the white was, the layer style dialog was opened (double click outside thumbnail on the layer to open) and the Blend Mode was changed to Hard Light. The Blue Channels check box was turned off which popped in some nice cool gray colors that I really liked. In the Underlying Layer sliders, the black tab was split (ALT+click in the middle and pull apart) and set to 0/167 and the white tab was moved as one tab and set to 226. This adjusted the blue tone colors a little bit. The Fill Opacity was set to 55%. I still wanted more color splattered throughout the image but I did not want it to take away from the total image. A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Pattern) was added above and several patterns were tried. I settled on one I would never have thought would work – flashtuchka-d3e5lmu floral vintage patterns using the 10flo pattern (a black, pink and white rose pattern) at 515% Scale. If you look at the upper right tones, you can see a bit of the flowers in the grunge effect. The opacity was set to 60%. Four layers were created on top using Kim Klassen’s brush 2204 from the brushes set in her Cloth and Paper Collection. Any kind of light spray textured brush would work fine. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was added to get rid of any tones that were too yellow – it was ruining the overall effect. The Yellows Saturation was set to -74 and a black layer mask was added. Just the yellow items were painted out slightly using my 30% opacity soft round brush again. Also the faces were painted back to a more natural color. The last step involved adding a Composite layer on top and my SJ B&W Border Frame.

This may not be exactly what your taste is in art, but I hope I was able to give you some ideas on what you can do with an image by just playing. I really had no idea where it would end up, but by trying different effects, I was able to find something that is both personal to me and I would not mind hanging up in my home. I do not consider myself an artist in the strictest sense, but I do look at some of my work and feel that it does express an artistic flair that represents me, and that to me is art!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Some Beach Fun!
How to Get That Creative Painterly Look
Photo Art Compositing For Fun
Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow


A Little Kaleidoscope Fun!

This week I thought I would just do a quick little blog on the Kaleidoscope effect. Corey Barker, a great creative guru with Photoshop, did a tutorial called the Ultimate Kaleidoscope on the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) website where he taught you how to make this effect. Mark S. Johnson did a very similar video this topic – see Workbench 272 Simulating a Kaleidoscope if you would like to see how to do it. Mark later did a Workbench 288 The Lloyd Williams Kaleidoscope video using some templates to help you get this effect from Lloyd Williams Photography website. I used Lloyd’s templates and technique to create the kaleidoscope effect in the two images shown here. His website link has a very good step-by-step workflow on how to do this so I will not repeat the process. The template basically sets up what the two original videos teach you how to do, and has 7 different templates to use. Create one smart object layer using the part or all of your image, and then each Smart Object layer in the templates updates using the added image – no Photoshop action is used. Very ingenious! The background in the image above uses his 16_LoRez template. I added the Topaz (for website link see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Adjust 5 Comic Book preset on the resulting kaleidoscope look to get a more drawn line effect. The pattern had some little white lines created by the template that needed to be removed before the final kaleidoscope image could be moved it into my yellow daffodil image and used as a background. See the tych below of my original African Lilly image used to create the kaleidoscope look, top right the result after adding the image to the template, and the bottom right the final result after adding Adjust. See end of blog for details on how the daffodils were processed and the image finished.…..The above is just another example of the kaleidoscope effect using Lloyd’s 8_LoRes template. These are really fun to do and very easy. This is one of my miniature mums in this image. All I did with this image was add a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring out a little contrast and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and set the Blue Color to Cyan +34/Magenta 0/Yellow +41/Black -48; Neutrals Cyan and Magenta 0/Yellow +2/Black -13; and Blacks Cyan +3/Magenta 0/Yellow -5/Black 0. I just thought it turned out to be an interesting design.

There are other ways to create the kaleidoscope effect. The Plugin Galaxy has a kaleidoscope effect that I wrote about some in my Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop blog for a little different look. It is easy to get some interesting effect with images that are not that great. Give it a try and see if you like the results!…..Digital Lady Syd

Daffodil image post-processing:

The yellow daffodils were shot at my local grocery store using my Kodak point-and-shoot. It was not the best picture, in fact it was awful, but I love daffodils and wanted to try and salvage the picture. I did everything I could in Lightroom but it still needed a lot of work in Photoshop. Whenever I have a bad image but great colors, I like to think photo art since it is never going to be a really sharp clean image. So in this case, I actually cut the daffodils out of their background as it was so cluttered. I used the Refine Edge to smooth edges in a layer mask before applying it. Next Topaz DeNoise 5 with the Overall Strength slider set to .19 was used. On a duplicate layer of the daffodils, Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Feature Enhancement II preset. Duplicated the result again and this time applied Topaz Simplify 4 Impressions Natural without the Edges turned on. This created the beautiful painterly look that I wanted. Now the kaleidoscope texture could be put underneath this layer. Adjusted the color and contrast with Levels Adjustment Layer setting the Output Levels to 65 and 255, and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the Yellows turned into a Reds 2 by dragging in image to get effect I wanted (ended up Hue -90/Saturation +80) and Master set to Hue +29/Saturation -3/ Lightness -3. That is how I got the final effect to be more blue and yellow instead of the original green and blue. This was really just completely playing with it until I got something I liked. I decided I did not like the color of the flowers so I clipped (ALT+click between layers) a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and changed to color to more brown tones (Master Hue -10/Saturation -20/Lightness 0). I decided I did not like the sharp edges around the flower so I added a New Layer and with Fay Sirkis’s Signature Watercolor Smooth Blend Mixer Brush, I painted out the edges and anywhere I wanted to emphasize the painted area. This took a long time to get just right, but you can use the Eraser Tool and remove areas that did not turn out so good very quickly. French Kiss Studio 3 Wave texture was applied using Color Burn at 48% to get more blue tones into the petals and leaves. Next another Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Midtones tab was set to 1.60, and the Output Levels were set to 0 and 200. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added next to lighten up the whole image by just dragging up the middle of the diagonal line. And I was done! I really liked the result but it took a lot of effort to get the image – the kaleidoscope effect was the easy part!


Native American Beauty

This week I decided to just display a few of the beautiful images I got from the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida this past January. If you get a chance to go to a Native American event, it is a great place to photograph unusual items and the colors are wonderful! This headdress was one of the most beautiful things I saw.  Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3’s Overall Strong II preset was applied first. Topaz Simplify’s BuzSim preset was applied to a duplicate layer. With a soft black brush on an added layer mask, the edges of the feathers were painted back in showing the layer below. A composite layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and Topaz Adjust 5’s French Countryside preset was selected. The layer mask for the Simplify layer was copied by highlighting it – press ALT and drag it up to the Adjust layer. Next Kim Klassen‘s texture 1612 (beautiful texture that was free by signing up for her newsletter) was left to Normal blend mode at 89%, but a layer mask was applied to the texture and the center painted out to clear out the middle. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to lighten the image up just a little. A New Layer was added to burn in and define some of the feather edges where they overlap in the image. (See my Fun Photoshop Blog The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! for more information on how to do this.) The last step involved adding my free SJ Painter Oil Frame to the image with a Bevel and Emboss Layer style (check Texture and set Scale 100% and Depth +79} – used my SJ Smudge Texture set to grayscale for a pattern, but any gray and white pattern would be fine). The frame was set to 72% opacity.
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These Rawhide Rattles are something I do not ever remember seeing before. One of the vendor’s had this assortment for sale. The image was first processed in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using three filters stacked: Detail Extractor, Midnight set to Neutral Color Set and Opacity of 67%, and Monday Morning using Sepia Color Set at 80% opacity – kind of an unusual group. 2 Lil’ Owls Workbook Bonus Texture 16 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was applied using Soft Light at 100% opacity. In the white layer mask, some of the detail was brought back on the left rattle. Basically that was all that was done to get this very antique look.
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This image of a Mexican Aztec dancer was a little difficult to process due the fact that there were a lot of distractions in the background, and his face was not real clear and needed a lot of clean up. The feathers in his headdress were so beautiful that I really wanted to process the image. Therefore, first the headdress was carefully extracted the Quick Selection Tool and Quick Mask Mode, and Shadowhouse Creations Rage Texture was placed behind him and set to Normal at 100% opacity. Topaz  Adjust 5’s Painting Venice preset and Topaz Detail 3’s Overall Detail Medium II preset were applied. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the Reds and Yellows in the image. A frame was added and set to a tan color.
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This was a wide assortment of Native American toys that were on a bright red tablecloth. I decided it would look better as a sketch with toned down colors. In Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to make the image overexposed. Topaz Simplify 4 was added and a preset was created using a painting preset as a starting point and Quad Tones of Black/Deep Red/Gold/Light Yellow tones were applied at a Tone Strength of .57. An Overall Transparency of .31 was applied. I ran Simplify 4 again on a duplicate background layer and this time applied a light black and white preset. Back in Photoshop it was stacked it on top of the first Simplify layer and set to Soft Light.  A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed on top where Reds Saturation was set to -41 to desaturate the color slightly. Kim Klassen’s Mary texture was applied using Normal Blend Mode and just painting out the center of the texture in a layer mask. As a last step, a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied using the Auto button to even out the colors and contrast. I think it gives a really nice sketch look and is appropriate for the various types of objects that were being displayed.
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These are feather headbands that were also being sold by a vendor. This is a funny story as I would never have used these settings if not for some spam I received from a comment that referenced how he added texture to his images. Here is the result I got from following some of the process. First Topaz Adjust 5’s Spicify preset was applied at 83% opacity. Next apply Topaz Simplify 4’s Watercolor II preset. Changed image to an 8-bit mode and went to Filter -> Stylize ->Diffuse Filter and selected anisotropic. Exit filter and rotate document -90 degrees counter clockwise using Free Transform (CTRL+T). Apply same filter again. Exit and rotate image clockwise +90. Apply the filter for a third time. Now go to Filters -> Texture -> Texturizer and set texture to Canvas, Scaling 200%, Relief 7, and Lighting Top. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level was applied increasing the saturation to +30 and a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to increase contrast. Kind of a strange technique but I really liked the results.

I hope you enjoyed these images – nice to do something a little different. Have a nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights

This may be my very favorite method of evening out an images tonality. Usually I am not shooting during the Golden Hours and my images have a lot of bright spots in the highlights or huge and dark shadows. The following technique may not cure all the problems, but it can certainly help draw the eye to other areas so the picture is saved. I learned this great technique from David Nightingale‘s CreativeLIVE course called Dramatic Post-Processing. (Check out David’s Photoblog – he has some great images posted. Also check CreativeLIVE for other interesting courses – the site has free live broadcasts running around the clock on a variety of topics.) He sometimes uses as many as 20 Curves Adjustment Layers to fine-tune an image. My image above used three. This is Navajo Horsehair Pottery by Matt Vail, a Navajo potter and artist (unfortunately he does not have a website but sells his wares with a vendor at the local Native American Festivals held around the country), who uses the golden sunset colors  Each piece is hand-etched. The horse hair is from the mane and tail that burns when it touches the hot pottery leaving a light stain cooked into it. This makes unique patterns on each piece. The colors are absolutely beautiful, and I actually bought the purple and gold one in the center. Some have turquoise added to the pottery and can be quite expensive.

Let’s start with my pottery image that had too many highlights issues.

1.  Add a Curves Adjustment Layer (click on half moon icon at bottom of Layers Panel and select Curves) and click on the Adjustment Eyedropper Tool icon in the upper left of the panel under the word Preset. This creates an eyedropper that can be used for sampling the image.

2. With the eyedropper active, click on the part of your image with a problem area. In the case of my pottery image, the front red and blue pottery piece near the blue ring where the highlights are blown out was sampled in the top left image below. If a shadow needs to be lightened, sample the dark area of the shadow, but only choose one area at a time. A white point will appear on the Curves Adjustment Layer showing the point that was sampled with the eyedropper on the straight diagonal line curve.

3. Underneath the RGB curve there is an Input field  and an Output field showing the same number relating to this point on the curve.

4. Move the Adjustment Eyedropper Tool back over the image again. As you move over the image, a little white circle moves up and down on the curve diagonal line showing what tone is under the tool. The numbers in the Input/Output fields are also changing as you move over the different parts of your image. This time just hover over an area that represents the new tone and/or color for the blown-out highlights or deep shadow areas, but do not click! Look at the new Input/Output number and remember it – this is the number to be placed in the Output field.

5. Unfortunately once you click back in the Curves panel, the field spaces disappear. To open them up, place your cursor over the white point so it turns into a cross hair and click on it – the fields will open up. In the Output field enter the new number from Step 4. There will now be a rounded curve with a new white point shown – although if the numbers have very different amounts, the curve may turn into very straight lines. You can always manually adjust the curve to get the effect needed, even adding extra points or sample again. Sometimes it is necessary to create two Curves Adjustment Layers and increase the tone in two different steps. For my pottery image a whitish color located in my purple and yellow pot was used for the Output field. To toggle between the Input and Output fields, just press TAB.

6. Fill the Curves Adjustment Layer mask black (by clicking inside it and pressing CTRL+I) and with a low opacity (like 12-30%) soft white brush, paint in the areas that need the new tone applied. Just build up the area until it blends in nicely with the other parts of your image.

The Curves Adjustment Layer technique can be used as many times as needed on different parts of your image. And the Curves can always be adjusted after-the-fact by clicking on the Curve icon in the Layers Panel – your settings will reappear. If you want to see a larger view of the image below, click on it for Flickr view.

The bottom row of images above is changing the Red Curve to darken the foreground tablecloth color. To do this, just open up the RGB field drop-down and find the color to blend in. You can manually change the curve or you can use the Eyedropper and place the point on the Red Curve, then find the output color number. This can be done using all three color channel curves and the Info panel, but it can get a little tricky. I use a Curves Adjustment Layer when I just need a small color change as shown above where the Red Channel Curve was manipulated. If a large color shift is required, the Hue/Saturation or Selective Color Adjustment Layers are easier to use.

Here are what the curves with the Input and Output fields included looked like for the two changes above. The white parts in the Curve Layer Masks are the areas being affected by the change. (White reveals and black conceals.) Click on the image below for a larger view in Flickr.

This technique can be used on a landscape as well as close-ups or portraits. It can really improves an image using very subtle changes and it is easy to do once you get the hang of it. This is one of the reasons that Curves in Photoshop is so powerful. Some people actually take their images into Photoshop just for this blending feature as Lightroom and ACR’s Tone Curves can not be manipulated like this. If you cannot get it matching completely, create a New Layer and just sample and paint with a low opacity brush to finish the clean up – see Getting Rid of Those Blown Out Areas in Your Image. (Just to give credit where it is due, the pottery image used Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Adjust 5’s Spicify preset and Topaz Detail 3 – best sharpening program around. Kim Klassen’s beautiful textures Desert at 78% layer opacity and Archived Set-printed set to Hard Light blend mode at 70% layer opacity. Sign up for Kim’s newsletter and get several of her beautiful textures including the Archived texture used on top in the above.)
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My images taken at the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida, were all taken in very bright sunlight at around high noon so there were heavy shadows everywhere and lots of strong highlights. This next image of a large stuffed brown bear was another example where two Curves Adjustments Layers were applied to get more detail and to even out the coloring of the fur.
Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Overall Medium Detail II preset and the Tone preset Skin Brightening II (check out the new drop-downs on the right side panel sections). Next a Curves Adjustment Layer sampling the dark area as an Input Amount (8) on the right side shoulder and using a setting from the chest for the Output amount (28). The Curves layer mask was filled with black by clicking inside and pressing CTRL+I to make it black. Then the shadow areas were slowly built using a white brush at 30% opacity. Since this was such a drastic change as can be seen in the before and after above, a second Curves Adjustment Layer was applied again sampling roughly the same area, but this time the Input Amount was 29 (close to the Output Amount with first curve) and an Output amount of 56 was used. This does not have to be exact. But you can really see the shadows and color open up! Another Curves Adjustment Layer was applied but for colors, not tone. The Red Channel Curve was pulled up slightly to return some of the reddish tone to the image. A Levels Adjustment Layer was applied and the contrast was increased slightly with the Output Level set to 34 to add a softer, more hazy look to the image. The Sharpen Tool was used on the eyes and mouth areas just a little. 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Aveline texture (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link), a basic light cream color, was set to Multiply blend Mode and layer opacity. Next French Kiss’s free Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay was added. A red color from the skin was sampled in yet another Color Adjustment Layer to get the matching red color. I also created both a Darken and a Lighten layer following my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog to finish up.

These Curves are major powerful and it is definitely worth time to try them out – it can totally save an image. I use this method at least half the time when processing my images – most people do not take the time to learn how to do this and their images look like it. Give it a try and see if you don’t immediately see improvements in your images!…..Digital Lady Syd


Creating a Healing Brush Background Texture

This simple Amerilius flower image was taken at the grocery store with my Point and Shoot Kodak EasyShare Camera. Not quite sure how I came up with this technique but I loved the result. And it was easy to do.

1. Open image and duplicate the background layer (CTRL+J).
2. Use Quick Selection Brush (or any selection tool you like) to select the Background (or select flower and CTRL+SHIFT+I to invert selection so the background is selected).
3. With selection still active, click on New Layer icon and your selection will appear on the new layer.
4. Create New Layer underneath your object layer.
5. Select the Healing Brush Tool and in the Options Bar click on the Pattern radio button and find a pattern you like. This image used French Kiss Watercolor Expression Set texture called Vivacity – I turned it into a pattern by opening the jpg in a separate document, and going to Edit -> Save as a Pattern. (Note: the size of the texture you are converting will determine how large your repeating pattern will be so try a couple different sizes to see what you like. Also whether you have Sample field set to Current Layer or Current & Below will make a huge difference.) Now when the Source is changed to Pattern, the pattern you just created is at the bottom of the list in the drop down menu on the right of the pattern field. A 235 pixel brush was used which does take a while to paint in – just paint over your selection and the pattern is laid down.

After that you can add plug-ins – this one used Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4’s BuzSim Split Toned I preset with the overall transparency set to .90. I also created an Overlay from 2 Lil’ Owls Bonus Texture 4 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) (created a PNG file of just the frame by following the steps in my blog How To Make Frames or Borders – scroll down to the section called “To save the frame you created as an overlay to use again.”) and changed to pink using a Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers). A Curves Adjustment Layer brought out more contrast and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer brought more color in the background.
…..This image used My Smudge Texture four times. The hardest part with this image was selecting the feathers from my original image to get a nice clean layer mask – Refine Edge was used to really get the clean edges. Next I put a New Layer underneath and painted in my Digital Lady Syd’s Smudge Texture as a pattern for the background. The first pattern I used followed the technique in Step 5 above and was a very large texture pattern as it was a larger size in Photoshop – the Healing Brush default settings for the brush were used and it created a really clean soft color texture for the background. For all the layers in this image, the Sample was set to Current Layer in the Options Bar. (If you set Current & Below, you will blend the layers together.) Next I created another New Layer above it and used my texture at a smaller size which resulted in a repeat pattern look. Using a 100 px brush set to Multiply Mode, several random lines were created down the layer by clicking with the Healing Brush at the top of the layer and Shift clicking at the bottom to get a straight line. Next a Free Transform was done (CTRL+T) to put the lines on a diagonal going somewhat with the feathers. By double clicking on the thumbnail, the Layers Style can be opened. In Pattern Overlay I selected my smaller sized texture again and set the scale to 37 and the Divide Blend Mode at 56% – this pretty much covered the straight line patterns but still kept the straight lines. A Stroke effect was added with the Size set to 35 and the Fill Type set to Pattern using my smaller sized pattern. The Scale was set to 31%. That was it for the background. The layer mask was applied to feathers by right clicking on the mask and selecting Apply Layer Mask. This layer was taken into Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Adjust 5 and the Spicify preset applied to bring out the feathering more clearly. A black layer mask was applied and then just the areas where the effect should be was painted back in. Topaz Detail 3 was added next with the Overlay Light Detail II preset was applied on a duplicate layer and set to 67% opacity. Jess Warriors 1  pottery brush was painted on its own layer at 30% opacity. Finished up with a Curves Adjustment Layer to lighten up some of the white feathers. OnOne’s Grunge 04 Frame was added in a yellow and French Kiss’s Glorious Grunge Edging PNG file (a free download) was added using a dark burnt orange Color Adjustment Layer for the border effect.
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Healing Brush vs Pattern Stamp – what are the differences?

After playing around with the Healing Brush technique, I will say it can give similar results as the Stamp Pattern Brush, but actually has fewer choices available. The Healing brush blends the pattern in with the underlying color and texture – the Pattern Stamp lays down the pattern exactly as it appears in the Options Bar. To get the softest edges on the Healing Brush’s pattern, use a soft brush by clicking on the drop-down menu by pressing the arrow by the Brush Size and setting the Hardness to 0% (default setting is 3%). The Pattern Stamp Brush lets you choose many of the Photoshop brushes that come with the program so you can get some interesting effects doing that where you have to use the settings in the Brush drop-down for the Healing Brush, and there is a really neat Impressionistic effect in the Options Bar that gives you some really neat looks for your background. Also, the Healing Brush has no brush opacity setting and only 8 blend mode options, including one, the Replace blend mode, that I have never seen before.  To quote Julianne Kost’s blog (she knows everything there is to know about Photoshop and Lightroom and gives great Photoshop World classes), “Using the Healing brush with the blending mode set to Replace makes it behave like the Clone Stamp tool (in that it doesn’t automatically try to blend color or tonality of the source and destination), with one advantage: if you’re trying to clone high frequency image information, the edges of the cloned area will not appear soft as they do with the Clone Stamp tool.” The Stamp Pattern Tool has an opacity brush slider and lets you use all the regular blend modes for your brush and also has a Behind mode. Try out different blend modes on your brushes – it can give really interesting results.
…..This is a female Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly (the males are smaller and blacker in color) that was so much fun to photograph – she would wait for me to take the picture before moving just like a model! Totally adorable! The trick to getting the shots since her wings are flapping like crazy was to set your ISO to 1600 and shot at F11 or higher. Got some great pictures of her. After selecting her and placing her on the top layer, Kim Klassen‘s Cherish Set-Cherishscript texture (sign up for her newsletter to get lots of beautiful textures) was placed right underneath the butterfly layer. A New Layer was placed above the texture and the Healing Brush was selected. The brush was set to Multiply Mode and one of my patterns that had a rough painted texture to it was selected in the Options Bar. Current and Below was set so the colors from Kim’s texture were blended with my pattern. When finished filling in the layer, the Source was changed to Sampled (and brush set back to Normal mode) and the hard edges between the two tiling were blended by ALT+clicking in an area to sample from. Using the Pattern Stamp Tool, French Kiss’s Spatter Brush4-01 was set to 1008 pixels and one stroke was applied. The layer was set to 77% opacity. French Kiss’s French Script No1 1876d overlay was added above that layer and set to 64% opacity with a brown Color Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to it. (The color in the splatter brush was picked up from the pattern shown in the Pattern Stamp Tool, which was the same one I was using.) The butterfly layer is still on top through all this. The last step is to add a Curves Adjustment Layer.

It was a lot of fun to try this out and you can use any pattern you want to get a different look. I am enjoying experimenting with some tools I do not use much to get a different look to my textures. Give it a try and see what you think…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds


Turning the Old into the New

Recently I have read about several people who have gone back and revisited some of their images they took many years ago before all the new technology, especially the Camera Raw technology, was created. So in this blog I decided to give it a try. The image above was originally photographed in June of 2003 with my 2 mg Casio QV-2900 UX Digital Camera – my first digital camera. I love the new look of these timeless Tamora Roses, possibly my favorite flower ever – it was always so nice to see them growing in my yard in Virginia after a long day at work and they smell fabulous! For all the blog original images and info on how they were processed, see the bottom of the post.
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I have been doing digital photography since 1998 when the Engineering Office I was working for decided to purchase a 1.3 mg Sony Digital Camera that saved images down onto a 3-inch disk. And this camera was expensive – I think it was over $600 when we bought it. That is when I learned to use Adobe Photo Deluxe, a precursor to Elements. I brought the camera home for a few family pix and I was hooked. The original image above was from my first batch of personal photos and was 40.7 KB in size! Not my favorite picture, but it was pretty cool to see what can be done with it now and a nice reminder of my salt water aquarium I used to maintain.
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This is just a simple snow image of a small bridge on Royal Lake near my old home in Fairfax, Virginia, and taken using my Casio camera again in the winter of 2003 – I actually like the original as well but it was fun to see what the new plug-ins can do on an image. Glad I do not have to deal with the snow anymore! This little 2 mg camera took some great images and I really put it through it’s paces back then.
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Just having fun with this beautiful yellow rose that also grew in my yard in Virginia. All the new textures that are available make it hard to choose a look! This was also taken with my old Casio.
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This is what my backyard looked like in April with all these aged Azaleas in bloom – definitely looked like a fairy garden! I really miss Virginia in the Spring! Actually you can see below what the real color of these flowers are – still beautiful – like both images.

Here is a tych I created from last week’s blog (see Using a Tych Panel to Show Off Your Images of my original images. Quite a difference!

If you have some older images that you really loved but just did not have the total feel you wanted, try reopening them up in Photoshop and applying some of the new techniques, textures and filters. This turned out to be a lot of fun for this rather boring time of year. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Processing steps for each image:

Image 1: These flowers are actually a tangerine color – yellow inside and pink tinge on the outside. In Lightroom the image was cropped, and Basic panel sliders were adjusted, then with an Adjustment Brush the center of the big flower was sharpened and clarity added just a little. Once in Photoshop the background was duplicated and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4’s Watercolor II preset was applied set to 90% layer opacity. A composite layer was created (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was applied to make the flower more pink (Yellows: Yellow -52%; Greens: Cyan -19, Magenta +56, Yellow -2, and Black +7; and Neutrals: Cyan and Magenta  0, Yellow -16, and Black -10). Next Melissa Gallo Painted Textures Winter Wheat was added and set to Hard Light blend mode at 100% opacity. I discovered that 2 Lil’ Owls Bonus Texture 4 created a great painterly looking frame – I created a PNG file of just the frame by following the steps in my blog How To Make Frames or Borders – scroll down to the section called “To save the frame you created as an overlay to use again.” A very light pink Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+ click between the layers). A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels changed to 33/255 to give a light hazy look to the image. In the layer mask, the main flower center was lightly painted in black to remove the haze. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to remove a bluish cast in the bottom of the image (Saturation -56 and Lightness +57).

Image 2: After applying a few Basic Panel changes in Lightroom and doing an OnOne (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Resize to change the image size to 6 inches X 4.5 inches from 2 inches X 1.5 inches, I could work on the image. To get the above result, Topaz DeNoise 3 was applied using their strongest JPEG preset and then adjusting the Overall slider to 0.27 and no Recover Detail. Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Highlights Detail IV preset. Then I went into Topaz Simplify 4 and added the Painting Tone IV preset changing the Size to 0.18, Saturation to 1.83, Saturation Boost to 1.42 and Dynamics (my favorite slider in Topaz is in Simplify also) to .31. I was able to get a bit of a texture in the image by applying Kim Klassen Cafe‘s free Sunkissed texture (sign up for her newsletter to get lots of beautiful textures) with a Bevel and Emboss layer style added where Texture was checked – used my free SJ Smudge Texture as a texture (which is really a pattern) to the image at 100%, and in the Bevel & Emboss dialog, I unchecked the Global Light box, changed the Size to 0, Highlight Mode Opacity to 85% and the Shadow Mode Opacity to 69%. (To create a pattern from a texture, just open the texture up in Photoshop and go to Edit -> Define Pattern and it will appear at the bottom of your patterns list.)  A light gray Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip the color to layer) to the texture layer. To add the painterly frame, my free SJ Painter Oil Frame (that I created this week in Painter) was added and the same Layer Style was added (hold down ALT+drag the one on the texture to copy to the frame layer). A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and that was it. I think it really has a painterly feel.

Image 3: This image was cropped in Lightroom and in the Basic Panel the Clarity, Vibrance, Contrast, Shadows, Highlights, and Exposure sliders were adjusted along with the Sharpening slider. In Photoshop Topaz photoFXlabs was opened and Topaz Adjust’s French Countryside was applied. Back in photoFXlab the Adjustments tab, my favorite Dynamics slider was set to 48. My free SJ Snow 2 Overlay-slight blur was applied at 73% opacity. Next my free SJ Painter Oil Frame (see download link Image 2 info) was applied at 69% opacity. On top of that French Kiss Artiste Collections grayish Northern Skies texture was added and set to Vivid Light at 41% opacity. By putting the texture over the frame also, it gives the canvas feel to the white frame. A slight S-shaped curve was added using a Curves Adjustment Layer.

Image 4: Basically this image was sharpened using Topaz Detail 3 Feature Enhancement II preset; Nik Color Efex Pro 4‘s stacking Film Efex Vintage using filters Film Type 16 and the Opacity slider set to 0 – that is because a Control Point had been placed just on the yellow flower, Darken/Lighten Center, and White Neutralize with a green Color selected; and adding 2 Lil’s Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Workbook Bonus Texture 13 (this is a soft smooth pink texture) set to 76% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture get the bluish tone for the background.

Image 5: To get this beautiful look, Nik Color Efex Pro 4’s Midnight filter set to Color Set Blue and White Neutralizer filter selecting a dark green color. Kim Klassen Cafe’s (see link in Image 2’s info) free unleashed texture was used, and once again I created a PNG following my Overlays blog steps (follow the steps in my blog How To Make Frames or Borders – scroll down to the section called “To save the frame you created as an overlay to use again”) and then clipped (ALT+click between the layers) a light gray Color Fill Adjustment Layer to it. That was it – really easy to do.

Image Tych: The background for the Tych was one from Kim Klassen free Texture Partings – I love the very soft subtle textures she creates!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Photography Has Come A Long Way


Shadowhouse Creations Actions

I do not use actions very often, partly because the good creative ones are very expensive. But Jerry Jones at Shadowhouse Creations came up with three sets of actions that I am finding really nice and plan on using. The image above used the Fond Memories Action in Action Set 3. First the image was cropped and basic sliders were adjusted in Lightroom. (See below for all the original images as brought in from Lightroom 4.1.) Then once in Photoshop, Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail’s Overall Medium Detail II preset was applied and some basic flower clean up was done. When using Jerry’s actions, I like to first create a duplicate copy of the image (Image -> Duplicate) just before running the action. The duplicate image is then flattened (click pop-out window in upper right corner of Layers Panel and select Flatten). It also goes a lot faster if you set the image is set to 8-bit mode first (go to Image -> Edit -> 8-bit) – this is OK if you are not planning to create a huge final print. Next my free SJ Impasto Smeary Flat texture (created while messing around in Corel Painter with an Impasto brush – who knew I would use it) was applied and set it to Hard Light at 20% opacity. Next French Kiss  Artiste Collections‘s Savoire Faire Overlay was added and using a layer mask, the French lettering was removed from the flower. The last step applied Shadowhouse Creations Grunge Gift Stock 10 texture set to Color Burn blend mode at 81% opacity.
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Loved this shot of a very patriotic corvette from the 39th Annual Daytona Turkey Run (I love corvettes!). Anyway, the image did not need much work as the car was so pretty as is, but I did manage to run Shadowhouse Creations Classy HDR Effect from his Action Set 2. I actually used the History Brush to paint back the original image windshield as the action caught too much glare in the glass. If you have not used the History Brush, it is a pretty nifty tool for these kind of issues. Just select the History Brush in the toolbox, set the brush opacity to 100% in this case, go up to the original image (or history state that includes the part you want painted back in) in the History Panel and click to the left of the histsory state’s thumbnail to set the History Brush icon. Now add a New Layer and paint back the parts you want restored. In this case a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and clipped it to the New Layer (ALT+click between the layers to link it} so just the changes occur to the New Layer. Then the Saturation was set to -54 to match the image better.
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This image of Purple Fountain Grass uses the beautiful Classy Sepia Action from Action Set 1. I really liked the tone this action creates. This image first required a lot of clean up due to the various background distractions, and Topaz Detail 3 was applied to just the focal parts of the grass. I saved this image and then started with a flattened image to apply the action. Next Shadowhouse Creations Scratchbox 3 texture was applied at Normal blend mode and 43% opacity – a layer mask was added to paint out the center but left the edges softened by the texture. A PNG grunge border was added which I created (see my How to Make Frames or Borders blog). A beige Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to the frame.
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I really loved this action – the Dreamy Paint Action from Action Set 3. First I duplicated the flower in the first image and warped it so it sits behind the other flower. Then I ran the action, did some background clean up, and added a texture made with a spatter brush and turned into a PNG file so the background color still comes through behind the texture (set to 35% opacity). A Curves Adjustment layer was clipped to the layer to bring out some of the tones a little more. The last step involved adding an Edge Frame and changing the color with a clipped Color Fill Adjustment Layer. (See my Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 9: Get the Shot! Tidbits blog for more info on this.) Last step involved just sharpening the flower centers a little using Topaz Detail 3 Overall Medium II preset on flower centers only.
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Pretty basic image here with little change in Lightroom before bringing into Photoshop. This time I ran the Hot Cocoa Action from Action Set 3. Since the middle ground got a little dark, I used the History Brush again on the original and painted back the grassy area behind the church and set the layer to 35% opacity. Next on a stamped or composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Detail 3 was applied using Overall Medium Detail II preset – a black layer mask was added and just the brick texture and the church spires were sharpened. My Thin Double Edged Frame layer style was applied using brown and beige for colors. I liked the warm color of the church in this image – really brightened up a rather bluish original.
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Above are the original images as brought in from Lightroom 4.1 (the view in portrait mode is shortened) so you can compare with my final results. I have been a big fan of the ShadowHouse Creations website – Jerry graciously gives away many wonderful textures which I have used repeatedly. He is asking for donations of $5 for Action Set 1 and $7 each for Action Sets 2 and 3. If you compare this to what most people are charging, this is incredibly reasonable for the scope of the actions you are getting. For more Before and After images, check out the individual set links. A few of the actions that use filters tend to run a little slow, probably due the high CS6 RAM use. That is why I have been changing to 8-bit mode before running them. On many of the actions you can go into the History Palette and change a setting or stop at a certain step if you are not happy with a result. So far I have not needed to do this. Well I hope you will check out Jerry’s great website and think about donating to use his actions. Thanks Jerry for the wonderful actions!…..Digital Lady Syd


How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush

I just keep learning more about textures. This is one of those little tips that just did not occur to me until I looked at my old notes from Fay Sirkis’s “A Stroke of Genius-Photoshop Art Studio” webinar at the NAPP website and it sort of “jumped out” at me. BTW, if you want to learn how to paint in Photoshop, Fay’s video is full of information to teach just that – she does a great job of explaining all the famous artist’s techniques.

Now for the basic tip: If you want to make a regular brush into a watercolor brush, just check the Scattering section in your Brush Panel – even the default settings can do wonders. You will probably need to reduce the opacity of the brush to get a good effect and also adjust the size. Can try changing the scattering amount and adding texture to the brush for more interest. Just be sure to save it if you want to reuse it by clicking on the Create a New Brush icon at bottom of the Brush Panel. If you use a Wacom tablet, you will get different results using a regular tablet brush and/or Barrel Rotation Brush, besides what you get with just a mouse stroke. My images all used the Barrel Rotation Brush to get the painterly look (I use an old large Intuous 3 Tablet that still works just fine), but I did switch between brushes and mouse to get a little different texture added. See bottom of blog for download link to all the brushes I have created.

For the agapanthas (African Lily) flower image above, these steps were followed:

1.  First duplicate the image.

2.  Place a layer underneath the top layer and fill with white (One way to do this is to go to Edit -> Fill and select in the Use drop-down white).

3.  A black layer mask was added to the top layer with the image, and in the mask the flowers were painted back in carefully using a 30% opacity white soft brush.

TIP: For the flowers in the bottom two image, first the Select -> Color Range command was used before the Layer Mask was added to get most of the flower and/or background selected (instead of painting it all in the mask by hand). The Quick Mask (press Q to enter and exit) was used to fine-tune the selection before adding the Layer Mask to the flower layer – this puts the selection into the layer mask when you click the icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. If the wrong area is black, just highlight the layer mask and invert by pressing CTRL+I.

4.  A new blank layer was added underneath the flowers but above the white layer. This is where I started experimenting with the above brushes – the watercolor texture was painted in exactly where I wanted it to fit around the flower. I ended up using a Watercolor Salt Brush set to Scattering at 368%, 170 pixel Brush Size at 30% opacity in a light blue. (This will look totally wrong at a higher opacity.) I tried several different colors and ended up using this soft greenish color (R160/G174/B124) in a Solid Color Adjustment Layer that was clipped to the painted texture (go to Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color and check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask). The Watercolor Salt Brush layer was set to 41% opacity. (This is my SJ Watercolor Salt Brush Tool Preset brush.)

5.  I decided to add in another watercolor texture layer made with the Round Watercolor Brush set to 30% opacity and Scattering 169%. (See my SJ Round Watercolor Erodible Brush 1.) The layer was set to 100% and the Solid Color Adjustment Layer was duplicated and placed above the top texture layer and clipped (hold down the ALT+click between the layers to get a clipping mask).

Optional Step as shown in first and second image: To get the look that this is on watercolor looking paper, all that you need to do is to add a Pattern Overlay Layer Style on the white layer created in Step 2 and use the same Pattern Overlay Layer Style on the actual flower layer in Step 3. When the Layer Style (double click on the layer thumbnail and select the Pattern Overlay style where you replace the default bubble with the CS6 Artist Surface Watercolor Pattern. (Click on the down arrow by the bubble pattern and click on the little gear on the upper right – navigate to the the Artist Surface patterns.) I set the scale to 536% and the pattern opacity to 74%. For Step 3 layer, set pattern opacity to 34%. You can find other watercolor patterns on the internet if you want a different look.

Those are all the basic steps to get this beautiful result. The hardest part was creating the layer mask for the flowers. You can always work on the flower layer mask more after you get your textures in place.
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This image followed exactly the same workflow above except a different color was used and the layer opacity was left at 100% for the texture. The Optional Step texture is from Russell Brown’s Watercolor Assistant Panel that is a free download for Photoshop CS6 users. It contains this beautiful watercolor paper pattern called Bockingford_rough. Download the panel and try painting – it is a lot of fun and you get this beautiful pattern to use for your watercolor background effects.

I got really nice results with the tablet brush using the new CS6 Round Watercolor Erodible Brush and adding the default Scattering settings, 30% brush opacity, and a larger 125 pixel brush. (See my SJ Round Watercolor Erodible Brush 1 in downloadable set below.) The CS6 Watercolor Salt brush actually generates a pretty realistic cloud effect when set to a soft bright blue color. Try the new Bristle Brushes too – gives a totally different look. I also created a nice Watercolor Brush using CS5 – in this case I started with the Round Blunt Medium Stiff brush. In Brush Tip Shape, Shape is Round Blunt, Bristles 14%, Length 137%, Thickness 37%, Stiffness 71%, and Angle 53 degrees. Then the Shape Dynamics section was checked with and Angle Jitter set to 34%, Scattering set to the Scatter 338%, Texture using one called White Stationary, Transfer  – Opacity Jitter set to 47% and Control Pen Pressure, Wet Brushes and Smoothing checked. (This is my SJ Watercolor Brush Tool Round Blunt brush in download set.) There several watercolor brushes in the Natural Brushes 2 set and Wet Brushes for CS5 users that would probably make really nice scatter brushes too.
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This image used roughly the same workflow except the background color is a lovely soft orange. This time my Salt Watercolor brush set to a light orange was used along with McBad’s Watercolor Brush 37 at 768 pixels using a light yellow. When finished, Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Adjust 5’s French Countryside (one of my favorites) preset was applied (with these changes: Adaptive Exp. .47, adjusted Contrast and Brightness, turned off Diffusion and Vignette, and set Tone Strength to .78), Topaz Detail 3 set to the Overall Medium Detail preset (I use this setting all the time on my images now), and Topaz DeNoise 3 used to clean up noise in flower center only – used a black layer mask and painted out the center. rbcampos Iris Set 01 Brush 005 was used for the center eye and set to a layer opacity of 27%. A catchlight was added to the eye and OnOne (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) PhotoFrame Dave Cross 13 was added in a matching soft orange.
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Here is a final example that follows the same workflow. In this case the background was created using McBad’s Watercolor Brush 11 with Scattering on and the Brush Size set to 2000 pixels. Just dabbed on a separate document until I got an interesting watercolor texture – then dragged it into the flower image under the Step 3 flower with layer mask layer, but above the Step 2 white layer. Topaz Simplify 4 was applied to the flower layer and the Watercolor II preset applied, except to the center of the flower. French Kiss’s free Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay with the center cleared out was applied and a purple Color Fill Adjustment Layer added. Just a slightly different look using a different type brush.

I have made my five brushes in this blog available for download at my Deviant Art: SJ WATERCOLOR BRUSH TOOL PRESETS. Load them into Photoshop by clicking on the first icon in Options Bar – click to open Tool Preset Picker and open up fly-out menu or little gear on top right – select Load Tool Presets and navigate to where you downloaded the file. (The file is in a compressed ZIP file format as Deviant Art would not take a .tpl extension.) Change all the settings – you can always get back to what they were by opening up the Tool Preset Picker and clicking on the brush tool again. Hopefully you will develop some even better brushes than these I supplied. Have fun experimenting with this…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
Using a Couple of My Textures


Digital Lady Syd’s Top Ten Photos From 2012

It is that time where I try to put some perspective on my images for the past year and choose the ones that appeal to me most. I had a nice year and got to see some pretty interesting places. I try to see which images I would place in my home. Here is what my “inner critic” thinks are some of my best.

10.  Below is an image shot while in the Lightner Museum looking down at my favorite lunch spot in St. Augustine, Florida, the Cafe Alcazar which is located in the old hotel pool area (see Bathing in Casino on Shorpys website for how the pool looked in 1889). For more info, see my Tidbits Blog Cafe Alcazar and Vintage Topaz Adjust.

9. I love this sort of illustrative and humorous effect. This image is of a whale taken during the Shamu show at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park. For details on processing, see my Storytelling with Your Images blog.

8. The Big Island in Hawaii was one of my most favorite places I have ever visited. This photo art image depicts how I think of Hawaii. I discuss how I created the effect in my Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect blog.

7. This lovely mallard duck pair’s image was taken at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park in Florida. This image used a texture by 2 Lil Owls and the new Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to bring out details and color, especially in the feathers and eyes.

6. This old corvette was for sale at the 39th Annual Turkey Run at the Daytona International Speedway infield. This is my favorite type of car –  so I had a great time photographing all the corvettes. (More will be showing up in my future blogs as I have a lot more corvette images.) To see how I processed this image, see my Little Red Corvette Tidbits Blog.

5.  Miniature Mums were used in a lot of my images this year. I like to photograph the flowers I grow. I have been trying to improve on my macro shooting  this year. To see how this flower was processed, see my Tidbit Blog Just Bloomin” Beautiful!

4. The wild surf is at Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island. In my Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! blog I used this same image with an artistic feel to it. Nik Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor filter helped give this image the sharpness.

3. I am always surprised how nice the flower pictures are that I get at the local grocery stores with my inexpensive Kodak point-and-shoot camera. These beautiful pink roses were shot at my neighborhood store. Post processing included adding 4 textures – two I bought from French Kiss’s website and two from a wonderful Flickr site by Lenabem-Anna which contains many beautiful vintage and painterly textures. I used her textures 130 and 72.

2. The purple lily pad image is one of my artistic experiments that I really like. They were taken at the Hilton Waikoloa Village by the Japanese Restaurant. To see how this effect was created with a slightly different result, see my Tidbits Blog Purple Lily Pads!

1.  It is hard to top Hawaii for beautiful everything. I settled on this image from along the road to Waipio Valley as my favorite of the year since it totally reminds me of my trip to the Big Island – the bright sunlight, the beautiful surf and the gorgeous clouds hanging out. To see how I processed this image, see my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.

It’s been a great year and I have learned so many new things about post-processing my images in Photoshop. Hope you have enjoyed some of my blogs too. I hope next year is as fun and productive. Happy New Year Everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd