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HOW TO CREATE A FUN CARTOON

Cartoon drawing of a pretty woman

If you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time just doodling in Photoshop. I like to try out new brushes and end up creating some pretty weird but fun cartoon characters. Then I end up tweaking it until it is something, well, as seen here in this blog. What I like best about doing this type of digital art is that it does not have to be perfect. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite brushes that work really good when cartooning or doodling. Also some nice brushes for adding color to the cartoon along with a couple little tricks to try out. This blog is a bit huge, but it is a lot of info to cover.

The cartoon lady above was the first one developed for this blog. Below are the basic steps I usually follow to create my cartoon images:

  • The first step is to draw a “Rough” drawing layer using a nice drawing brush. Usually a pencil or ink brush is selected to start – this image used Kyle Webster’s Tilty Pencil Brush from his Winter 2022 set (I changed mine from a Mixer to a Regular brush – see Appendix at end of blog on how to do this – it makes a great sketch brush, but both the Mixer and Regular brushes are great!) Begin by just doodling a few items to start your character, and black is my preferred sketch color. Usually I begin with the nose or eyes – then I throw an oval shape around the figure to create areas to build on. Then the body is drawn, if needed. Remember at this stage, it does not have to be proportioned perfect.
  • This step is optional if you are happy with the Rough drawing layer. Next create a “Refined” drawing layer by starting with a New Layer and setting the “Rough” drawing layer to a lower opacity. Then either use the same brush or a different one to draw over the original in a darker ink to fine-tune the lines. This totally depends on the look you want. For the above image, a New Layer was used to fine-tune the face separate from the body – the layers were merged together when the refining was done. Sometimes a rougher ink brush looks better at this stage for the character being put together.
  • Put a New Layer underneath the Rough Draft layer (turn it off now if there is a Refined drawing) and start painting in the different areas of your character. This image used a few of Kyle’s Real Watercolor Brushes – the Skirt used Wet Pull and her skin used Natural Edge Painter 2. The hair was called Sampled Brush 2 3 by Daarken in his Full Daarken Brushes Full Set (some really cool brushes in this large free set). It just created this great mass of hair! For the Blouse the Natural Edge Painter 2 was used again and Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spider Spread Blend smudge brush was used to spread out the paint and smooth the fabric effect. I love this smudge brush!
  • TIP 1: This next step is really important so the texture placed underneath your character does not show through, especially when using watercolor or if the layer opacity of one of the objects is less. To do this, duplicate your Refined drawing layer and paint solid white over just the character. Once done, move it down under all the color layers. If white shows through a little after moving, just erase what looks bad on the white layer. This will make your image look so much better!
  • Create shadow and lighten layers. TIP 2: For the lady above, a technique by Pratik Naik was used where a large round 100-pixel soft brush with Smoothing checked on. In the Options bar set the Flow to 9% and turn on the Airbrush. Created a white layer to lighten and a black layer to darken the image. This brush is my go-to do this and often a different color is used to get a different look. Very handy to use!
  • To finish up, just below the white layer a texture can be added. The one above was mine created in Corel Painter. A Color Look-up table was used to give a little more contrast. Could also add on top Curves, Levels, or Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers.

This is the basic process.

Cartoon of a guy

The Unhappy Man image above was created using a different free brush called Scratchy Scratchy by David Belliveau at Paintable from his Sketch Set (I have learned a lot from David and followed several of his classes – see my Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter blog for an example and more info on him.) Another really nice brush – there are so many choices in PS for this kind of art. His lips were created using my SJ KTW Tilty brush (I have trouble with lips so to learn to do this, Etherington Brothers visual lip tutorials were very helpful – search on their Twitter Feed for How to Think When You Draw – Lips – Part A and Part B from May 21, 2021. It shows you how to draw spheres in the lips to get them balanced.)

The T-shirt pattern is from the Old Design Shop – Keating Bicycle Ad and the Free Transform-Warp tool was used to get it crooked (this layer was set to Multiply to remove the white – this messed up everything when a stamped layer was created on top at the end of the process. MAJOR TIP 3: If creating a stamped layer and a weird color shift or a layer style does not work correctly, go the layer(s) with the blend mode(s) that are different from the Normal layer blend mode and convert them into a Smart Object(s) – now everything will work once the original stamped layer is deleted and a new created on top. This took me forever to figure out but I find color shifts comes up a lot!

Grut’s NM Knowit was used for the light whiskers on the Refine drawing. A solid color brush was used on a layer underneath the Refine drawing layer and different colors added to the character. Sam Peterson’s Pencil Stumpy 6 was used to paint in the solid colors. Then Sam Peterson’s Airbrush for Shadows at 25% opacity to finish up. Both of these brushes can be downloaded for free by going to his in his Character Design in Photoshop YouTube video and in the chat relay sidebar there is a link – he does discuss how to use his brushes in this video. Sam always has some good PS techniques in his Creative Challenges. Next the white figure was painted on a layer underneath the colored parts of the person as explained in Step 4 of the process. Last step involved adding the texture background below the white layer. The background texture was one created from an elephant tutorial by Aaron Blaise (see my Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing blog for info on getting his fabulous tutorials) – he often starts his tutorials by creating really nice basic textures so check him out to learn about this and all sorts of drawing. This image is similar to the top image but used different brushes.

Cartoon character of a guy outside

This above Outdoorsman image followed the same basic steps, but once again used some different brushes. This time the Rough drawing layer was used with no Refine drawing layer. TIP 4: Where I differ from most drawers is that I do erase out lines and remake them on-the-fly or use the Lasso Tool to change the size or line up my lines. My Wacom pen is set to toggle between the ALT key for sampling and E for erasing – very handy. My new favorite drawing brush for cartoons is Kyle’s Clean Comic brush from his Magapack set – created a brush by changing these settings in the Options Bar: Size of 10 pixels, Flow 36% and Smoothing 12% – then the saving brush. It makes for a very clean line. The painting color brush is one I named SJ Smooth Painting and it uses the tip of Aaron Blaise’s Local Color Brush (from the Brush Tip section) with my settings. (His brush used a lot of settings, but I only used Transfer (Opacity Jitter 0% and Control Pen Pressure) and Smoothing. The Options Bar is set to Size 35 pixels, Opacity 100%, Pressure for Opacity on, Flow 83%, and Smoothing 10%.) It makes a really nice paint stroke for applying color. TIP 5: It is fun to try different brush tips from with other brushes to create new ones. Sometimes really great brushes are created as this one is for me.

The background was created by adding a layer underneath the white painted layer and just lightly drawing in some background features with the Clean Comic brush. I followed some tips from a recent video by Kyle T. Webster called Tips for Creating Space and Distance in Your Art – very informative. On a layer underneath the background sketch, Kyle’s Smitty brush from his Spring 2022 set was used for the landscape and the tree. The sketch was left just slightly showing by lowering the Sketch background layer to 64% opacity – wanted a bit of the cartoon look to still show to tie it into the character drawing. The slight floral effect was created by using a Pattern Stamp by Jessica Johnson using her English Garden Set (brush 30 and pattern 37) – my favorite set of hers! She is the Pattern Stamp expert! Used my Pratik Naik from above for the slight shadow effect.

Cartoon of a man sitting in a chair

This image is a lot more basic than the others. Just a Rough layer was created using a new ink brush called Tick Fission by GrutBrushes – it is his free brush of the week this week but all his brushes are only $1 if you find one you want. This site is fabulous if you have not checked it out before. I am really enjoying this brush as it gives some nice variety of lines for drawing. Underneath, a brush created from a texture brush using French Kiss was used to add some texture to his pants. (See my How to Create a Texture Brust to Match a Texture blog to learn how to do this – it is nice to have a texture brush from one of your favorite textures to use in images.) Under that is the painted white figure. TIP 6: A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was used to add the background – the above uses Kyle’s Gesso Canvas Knife pattern from one of his brushes. I can’t find the brush where this pattern is from, but several of his brushes have similar effects – Kyle’s Megapack Inkbox Brush Pen Queen uses one called kyle nupastel 2017 that also looked nice in this image. To download the pattern (texture) from the brush, just click the + icon to the left of the pattern line – it will automatically go into your pattern file. Use a Selective Color Adjustment Layer using the Colors Black, Neutral, and White colors and the black slider to adjust pattern contrast – try both Relative and Absolute. This is a great way to get a really nice painterly texture. By using the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, they can be swapped out really easily. Even if the pattern is too light or dark, just change the blend mode or layer opacity of the adjustment layer and it may look really good. To learn about the textures in brushes, check out Brush Hour with Kyle T. Webster: Let’s Create Some Pattern Brushes video for great info on this. The font used was Segoe Print and is free for personal use.

Thank you so much for hanging in there with me on this huge blog. It has been a while since I did one – this is something I have been wanting to write about for a while. Hope you found something useful in it, even if it just finding some new brushes to try out. Have a great one!…..Digital Lady Syd

APPENDIX:

TIP 7: As promised here are the instructions on how to convert brushes between Mixers and Regular type brushes and other types too. The bottom line for converting a regular brush into a mixer: Select the Mixer brush that has the settings you like, then press down the CTRL+ALT keys while clicking on the Regular brush you want to convert to a Mixer with the original Mixer settings. They will appear in the Options Bar. Below is how I actually created the SJ Tilty Pencil brush.

How to turn Kyle’s Tilty Pencil Variant Brush from his Winter 2022 set from a Mixer into a Regular Brush. Not exactly how I figured this out, but it works great for me as a Sketcher. It gives very delicate lines, like the ladies face above, but much darker lines for more emphasis. To convert the Tilty Pencil Variant into a Regular brush is just the opposite from turning the above info on changing a a Regular Brush into a Mixer. In this case either create a basic Regular Brush with the Option Bar set to Opacity 100%, Flow 100% and Smoothing 20% or find a brush that is set up the way you like. Select this brush and press down the CTRL +ALT keys, keeping them held down until you get to the Tilty Pencil Variant, and click on it – it now turns into a regular brush with all the Mixer’s Brush Settings but the Options Bar will use the regular brush settings. Immediately go down and save the brush by pressing the + icon and naming it. Otherwise once you use a different brush, it goes back to a Mixer. Now you can change the size and the settings to match what you want. For my brush (a small round brush tip), it is no longer an Erodible brush (since the regular brush tip used was not Erodible brush type – need to create an Erodible brush like the Mixer settings on the new one if you want it to be an erodible Regular brush) – but is set to Size 7 pixels and Spacing 10%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 11%, Control Pen Tile, Minimum Diameter 36%, Tilt Scale 104%, Angle Jitter 39%, Control Pen Tilt, Roundness 0% and Control Off; Scattering Both Axes at 30%, Count 5, and Count Jitter 62%; Texture – Pattern is Kyles WC Seamless 1 (saved down from one of his Watercolor brushes – see TIP 6 above), Scale 100%, Brightness -122, Contrast 5, Check Texture Each Tip, Mode Height, Depth 22%, Minimum Depth 0, Depth Jitter 0% and Control Pen Tilt; Transfer – Opacity Jitter 0%, Control Pen Pressure, Minimum 26%, Flow Jitter 0%, and Control Off; and Smoothing checked. In the Options Bar, Opacity is 100%, Flow 31% and Smoothing 20%. There you have it! This same technique can be used on most brushes in PS except the Clone Stamp Tool. Try it out – it works really good.

DIGITAL LADY SYD’S RELATED BLOGS:

The Lifeguard


THE BALD EAGLE AND HOW TO DRAW ONE

Image of a drawn American Eagle for Memorial Day

I wanted to do something a little patriotic as my contribution to Memorial Day, a most important holiday in my country. The Bald Eagle has been the national bird of the US since 1789. Today, the Bald Eagle, which is indigenous to the US, is protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940. If you love Eagles like I do, check out these web cams of the various Eagle families. I drew this eagle before I decided to put him into a Memorial Day background. I have to admit that I spent a long time drawing this bird, a lot of steps to learn and attempt to master, but overall a lot of fun to create!

I will try to keep this short by listing my references used as the main ingredients on how the Eagle was created. First, a wonderful YouTube video by Aaron Blaise shows how to create the actual bird was used. It is called Birds of Prey Course Sneak Peak Out Now! from 2020. I only followed his first example of the Eagle head, where he takes you very thoroughly through the steps needed to get a pretty good result. Here is what my bird looked like after doing the above video. Still a lot of work was needed.

Basic drawn image of the eagle

Next a background was added using a few layers in Corel Painter, but I could have used oil or acrylic brushes in Photoshop to get a similar results. From this point on, a lot of improvising was done. Photoshop’s Kyle T Webster’s brush Pollock CD from Summer Set 2019 set (Kyle’s brushes are always free to PS subscribers) was used at lower opacities to add the speckles above the background and also lightly on the Eagle. Lots of different brushes were used to add more details into the feathers. Used a lot of Aaron’s brushes for the basics. One of my favorite brushes used was the glitter effect added on some of the darker areas of the feathers – Grut’s major cool OI Brief Shona brush was used but the texture in the Brush Settings Panel was changed to a gold glittery pattern – this gave a really nice glittery feel to the brush when adding in some of the shadow lines. And note, just because the pattern is gold does not mean you get the gold effect – must first select a gold color for painting (could use gray to get a silver which was also done in spots). It sort of felt right for a regal Eagle! Also used Grut’s brush ICitrose for roughing in some of the feathers. (Grut’s brushes are the best and if you visit his website, every Monday he posts a free brush to download which is how I got the ICitrose brush a couple weeks ago – this is always a lot of fun to try out a new brush each week!) Lots of strings of whites a grays were used to add in more feather details. When finished, a Gausian Blur was set to 1.6 Radius to keep these detail lines from being too sharp. Some dodging and burning was used. The font is one I really like called Zahra In Line Grunge – layer style effects of Bevel and Emboss, Pattern Overlay, Outer Glow, and Drop Shadow were applied to make the gold effect. The same gold pattern used in the glitter OI Brief Shona brush was selected, except the gold color now appears in the lettering. The gold pattern effect is from Gold Foils 7th Ave Design textures – the Gold-8 texture was converted into a pattern by going to Edit -> Define Pattern. Any gold glitter textures you have would work or you can even make them. (See my How to Create a Glitter Texture blog.) It is now added to your pattern list and be selected for a brush in the Texture brush settings or as a Pattern Overlay in Layer Style Effects.

I enjoyed doing this bird so much I actually purchased the How to Draw Birds of Prey Course from Aaron – it covers 15 different types of birds and lots of material – still just getting through the basics on birds. Hopefully I will have a few more drawings soon. In the meantime, hope everyone is having a great holiday in the US and a great weekend in other locations! Summer is almost here!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Reference Blogs:

A Little Aaron Blaise Digital Drawing Practice

Creative Photoshop Digital Art Tips

Got Some Free Time! Try Drawing!

A Leopard Thinking

Introducing the Beautiful Fox


WHEN LEARNING TO DRAW – PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

Watercolor drawn image of a vintage woman reading

Happy Mothers Day to all and I hope everyone is having fun with their Moms or remembering the good times if they are not around. This vintage lady, in remembrance of my fabulous Mom, is one I drew based upon an image I particularly like called A Holiday at Mentone (a beach near Melbourne, Australia) by Charles Conder in 1888. I learned this is a great way to practice a little drawing and try out some new brushes.

The brushes used here are all from Kyle T. Webster sets that are free with your Photoshop subscription. To load them, open up the Brush Panel and go to the settings hamburger icon in the top right corner of the panel – in the drop-down select Get More Brushes. Just search through the list until you find the ones you want to download. Note that there are hundreds of brushes so I never load them all at once. Just save the sets to your hard drive and load the set as needed.

First step was to draw the vintage lady – tried several digital pencil brushes and finally settled on one of the Winter 2022 brushes called Tilty Pen Alt. Never really liked the brush but for some reason it worked out very nice for this type of sketching. On layers created underneath the now locked sketch layer set to a lower layer opacity (36%), several digital pastel and oil brushes were tried to add in the color – it did not look great. Having never tried the Watercolor painting effect before, it was my next choice. Therefore, the Real Watercolor brushes were opened up and mainly Kyle’s Real WC-Flat Thing to Thick (in Options Bar, changed the brush Mode to Normal and Angle to 93 degrees), Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Clean Edge Thick ‘n Thin 40, and Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Basic 50 were selected. I found I liked the watercolor brush Mode set to Normal instead of Multiply on many of the watercolor brushes I tried. Separate layers were used to paint the different parts of the image. Also Kyle’s Summer 2020 set called Impressionista was used on the skirt. Viveza 2 (from the free Nik filter set from years ago – still the best filter around for quick changes IMHO) was placed on her face and reading material to slightly lighten the tone. A Gradient Adjustment Layer was added underneath the lady and set to a diagonal. The Microsoft font Segoe Print was used and a Stroke Layer Style was applied to make it stand out.

How do you know which brushes to try? One of the best ways is to watch Kyle T. Websters’s YouTube videos on Adobe Creative Cloud – he does a Brush Hour every other week where he talks about how to use his brushes and how to change the settings to work for you. This is how I found out about the Tilty Pen Alt – once he showed how to use it, I followed along and tried it out. Some of his brushes do not work for me. Recently I did a blog on how to find ones you like. (See my Finding a Photoshop Brush in a Big Set blog.)

One major issue I had was with Photoshop 2022 was when it hung up several times while painting – not sure why but it just stopped making marks – showed it was painting in the History Panel, but they were not appearing. Also the Eraser and Smudge Brushes did not work. Had to save, close and reopen the program and then the painting brushes worked again. Therefore, I have decided to continuing using PS2021 for drawing and painting – never have problem with it. At least the exact brushes I want to use can be set up just for this. My last blog also addressed similar problems and that is why PS2021 was added back on my computer – you can still have PS2022 on your computer at the same time. (See Download Old Versions of Creative Cloud Applications – Bypassing the Creative Cloud App by Helen Bradley.)

Hope everyone has a great day and does a little Photoshop just for fun!…..Digital Lady Syd


FINDING A PHOTOSHOP BRUSH IN A BIG SET

Drawn and painted image of a Red Legged Honey Creeper Bird

So how do you keep all your great Photoshop brushes organized and how do you remember what they look like for a given effect? This blog shows what I have been doing to combat this huge Photoshop brush debacle! I have two tips on how to do this.

For the past several months, Kyle T. Webster (Adobe Brush Evangelist) has been creating videos on how to use some of the different brushes in his PS sets. It got me to thinking about how to see these brushes and their strokes quickly to decide if I wanted to apply any to an image. Since Kyle has over 2000 brushes to download, with 400 in his Megapack alone, it can get very confusing. (Note: To download these brushes, open PS and go to the Brush Panel’s upper right corner drop-down menu and choose Get More Brushes. If you are on the PS subscription service, you will be able to choose any of his sets.) And if you are like me, I am always on the lookout for other great brushes such as the fabulous GrutBrushes (he gives a free one away every Monday so check him out – you won’t be disappointed with them), Aaron Blaise brushes (the wonderful Disney drawer with lots of nice brushes and wildlife tutorials – watch for his great sales), and Maddy Bellwoar (Adobe Create artist that has some beautiful painterly brushes and great weekly painting videos), to name just a few. Just these few artists’ brushes create a huge amount to organize!

For a quick bit of info on the image above (which was really just a practice image BTW and not finished), it was drawn by following a video by Maddy on Behance called Painting Beautiful Birds in Photoshop. Below most of her videos is a link to download a free set of 44 brushes and many were used on the blue bird she painted. Below is my stroke page for these brushes. (See my American Goldfinch Tidbits Blog for more info on Maddy and her brushes.)

First Tip: Create a Brush Group with Duplicates of Brushes Used in Image

The first tip is what I now do anytime a new image is painted. It is very important that the layers are labeled with the different brushes being used so you know where they were applied in your painting – then you can see how to create a similar effect in another painting.

  • When painting, click the “Create a New Group” in the Brushes Panel – click on Folder icon at bottom and name it. See in screenshot below.
  • A duplicate of any brush being used is created as I paint. To duplicate a brush, highlight the brush to copy and press the middle box with a (+) icon next to the Group icon. Sometimes the duplicated brush will show a different name (the Soft Airbrush below shows a name of Soft Round 200 730) so it is renamed back to the original and sometimes the initials of the brush artist, like MW is added if needed. (You can save any brush you want this way – just rename and decide if you want the Tool Type, Size and Color saved with the brush in the New Brush dialog box.)
  • Then highlight and drag the duplicate brush to the new group. Below is an example of all the Bird brushes used so far for the top image.
  • When finished, be sure to save the Group of brushes by highlighting all the brushes in the Group – then in upper right drop-down menu, choose Export Selected Brushes and Name the file on your computer (I usually use the image name and place in a special folder called Project Set Brushes). It will save down as a PS brush .abr file. If you add more brushes later, the file can always be saved over with the added brushes. To open file in PS, go to the drop-down again and select Import Brushes – go to the file and double click and it will be shown at the bottom of your brush list. Very handy to have!
Image of brushes used in bird image.

Second Tip: Make Brush Stroke PSD Files for Reference in Bridge

Kyle recently created a really interesting video called Brush Hour: the Fall 2021 Brush Set on his Fall 2021 set of 26 brushes where he drew a Halloween-looking guy like below. For this image it was really good practice to try and emulate what he did just to learn how to use the brushes. (I also learned how to stack drawing layer effects in this video.) No Brush Panel Group was created since most of the brushes used were in the his Fall 2021 set.

Drawing of a vampire in Photoshop

To keep brushes straight in all of Kyle’s free sets from Photoshop, or any others I have downloaded, a Photoshop PSD document was created for each stroke, and anything else can be placed in it. Two files are usually made with big sets of brushes – often my own little sketches using the brushes are added. Below is an example of my Fall 2021 Brushes Set showing each brush – the ones liked are marked with a dot. (For the vampire pix, the Double Edged Hatch, Boxit, Circlez, Ripopolo, Pigmentia Edge, and Ratchet brushes were used just to create the background. Then Pigmentia and Rachet were mainly used to create the character but also a little Concept Pencil and Vincent for Vincent Van Gogh were also used – you can see I liked several of these brushes.)

Examples of Kyles Fall 2021 Brushes

Below is the sheet created of Maddy’s Free Brush strokes. (Click on the image to see better in Flickr.) The third brush in the top row is one I created (from a Maddy video) based on the second brush – it has been saved with the brushes in this set file. The Canvas Size (go to Edit -> Canvas Size) was extended to accommodate all the brush strokes in this set (it would be hard to print the files out this way as it needs two files for printing).

Image of Maddy's Free Brush and Variations

The PSD file is saved and placed into a folder to access in Adobe Bridge (mine is called Paintbrush Example Files). This way the files can be reviewed very quickly to see where the needed brush is located or to find a good one to use. Below shows my folder of some of the PSD files in Bridge.

If there is an interesting technique being used, select the Note Tool (toggled with the Eyedropper Tool and several others) to include this info with your image for extra reference – this can show brush change info, like adding a Color Dynamics section to it or changing the spacing of the brush. Or if a change is made to a brush, it can be saved with a name showing what was done to it as shown in the SJ Soft Shading and Blending-no opa transfer brush in Maddy’s Blue Bird Group above.

It takes a while to do this, but it has saved so much time now that they are available. Getting the backlog of Kyle’s and Grut’s brushes set up took a lot of time. And having the brushes in a folder when painting is also very handy, especially if I am trying to get a similar look to a painting or drawing from a previous image. And it is a great way to learn how to use the brushes with your stroke style! Wish I had been doing this all along!

I hope this is helpful to some of you who are like me and collect who knows how many brushes. Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather like we are having here in the States. Fall is such a great time of year!…..Digital Lady Syd


A FEW PHOTOSHOP AND LIGHTROOM TIPS AND TRICKS

Image of a lioness drawing

This week I thought I would present a few handy tips and tricks that you may not know or had forgotten – some are from a few years ago. These are ones I found while experimenting on my latest images. Maybe they will be helpful for you while working on yours. The image above was drawn and painted from an photo I took at the Jacksonville Zoo a while back. I love her expression. So here we go…..

  1. CHECK VALUES QUICKLY (PS): Sam Peterson from Adobe Creative Live, has this excellent way to turn your photo to black and white to see how the image values are looking. First need to set up the panel. In PS go to View -> Proof Setup -> Custom and in Customize Proof Condition Dialog, set Proof Conditions – Device to Simulate to Dot Gain 20%, Rendering Intent to Relative Colorimetric, and check Black Point Compensation. Now these settings will always remain. Simply press CTRL+Y and instantly you will see the whole image in B&W. Just press CTRL+Y again and it removes the effect. Also, the Color Picker still works when image is in B&W so you can see what color is causing a problem if you do not like the results. Really cool! I am using this all the time now for a quick view of what is happening with the tones in the image.
  2. SHADOW AND HIGHLIGHT LAYERS (PS): Another Sam Peterson trick – this guy does have some really interesting techniques! For images with really neutral lighting, he creates a New Layer and sets it to Multiply blend mode and selects a grayish-blue tone (try #8e969e). Clip this layer to object layer for keeping shadows confined to the object only. Otherwise can use on the whole image. Use any brush, soft Airbrush or hard edged, to paint in the shadows. (Can create a gobo lighting effect doing this with an interesting stamp brush – see my Photoshop Gobo Lightng Effect blog.) He does the same technique for Highlights using a Color Dodge blend mode and a darkish mid-gray color (try #42403d). These two layers work well together and give some beautiful results. By using these colors and adjusting the brush opacity and flow, a subtle result can be achieved.
  3. BRUSH SMOOTHING FOR TRACING (PS): This tip is from Paul Trani also from Adobe Creative Live. When tracing over an image and are having problems controlling the brush strokes, set the brush Smoothing up to 50 and the lines stroke much easier. It does slow the brush down a little, but it really helps to create nice smooth curves lines. I am finding this very helpful anytime I am using a very small sized thin line brush – used it to add some tree branches on a trunk recently.
  4. SELECT AND MASK REFINE EDGE BRUSH (PS): I have always struggled with getting good results in this panel. Well Sam Peterson once again gave me some insight for this tool. With the layer mask highlighted, go into the Select and Mask Panel and choose the Refine Edge brush icon, 2nd down on left side. In Tool Options Bar at top, open the drop-down next to the brush size field and set the brush Hardness to 0, Spacing to 25%, Angle to 0, Roundness to 100% and Size to Off. Also note that the Radius is set to 0, Smart Radius is not checked, and Object Aware selected. Once I did this, I found it was much easier to get good results on the edges, particularly when selecting hair or fur. He also cautions that dragging the brush too much inside selection will allow the edges to creep in. Drag on the very edges outside of object for best results. Use the ALT key and paint back any area that leaks in or use the Brush Tool (3rd icon on left) to clean up.
  5. CAPS LOCK TO FIND AND PAINT WITH BRUSH (PS): Kim Klassen of texture fame put me onto this one. When painting with a very tiny brush or very large brush where it is hard to see, just press the Caps Lock to get a small cross so you can see where the center of the brush is. It works with painting with a very tiny sized brush. I use this trick all the time when using cleaning up areas with small brushes like cleaning up halos, etc.
  6. SMUDGE BRUSH AND MIXER BRUSH LAG ISSUES (PS): These tips comes from Kyle T. Webster, the Adobe Brush Evangelist. If your Smudge or Mixer brush are acting very sluggish, you may need to turn off Sample All Layers due to several layers in image. Can also go into the Brush Settings Panel -> Brush Tip Shape section and – for Smudge Tool, uncheck Spacing and for Mixers set the Spacing to 5%. Try reducing the brush size also. It helps to close other documents open in PS and any open web browsers to speed things up too.
  7. DEHAZE SLIDER TIPS (LR): Two major Lightroom and Photoshop gurus offer these tips. Moose Peterson, of wildlife reknown, says that whenever he uses Dehaze, he always lowers the Blue Saturation in the HSL/Grayscale tab since the slider tends to crank up the blues. John Paul Caponigro, possibly my favorite PS guru, says that Neutral areas may turn magenta, and Shadow areas pick up strong blue or green casts. Can reduce Saturation after using, but what he likes to do it create a Virtual Copy. On one copy use no Dehaze and on another use it. Highlight both images in filmstrip, right click on an image, and select Edit In -> Open as Layers in PS. Put layer with no Dehaze on top and change to Color blend mode. Something to try IMO.
  8. ADJUSTING PRESENCE SLIDERS IN LANDSCAPE IMAGES (LR): This info comes from Randy Van Duinon, a very good architectural and landscape photographer, who uses an interesting LR workflow. He starts by first adjusting the Texture slider which works in the fine detail adding contrast in these areas; next the Clarity slider which adds contrast in the midtone areas (he keeps this amount around 35 and more on cloudy days); and finally Dehaze which adds contrast to the larger areas. Then he continues with the Basic settings. This has worked out well for me at times.
  9. USING PROFILES IN LIGHTROOM (LR): Daniel Gregory, a professional fine art photographer, came up with what I consider is a rather common sense tip. Since the image can change rather dramatically just by changing a profile, he believes that it should be applied first as he would be making different setting decisions depending upon which profile he uses. The Adobe profiles do not have an amount slider, but usually creative profiles that are downloaded have this slider. Consider the Amount slider the same as an Opacity slider on a layer in PS. I will add that many people do not add the profile until the end (Matt Kloskowsky for example) so this is definitely something to try.
  10. PARAMETRIC AND LINEAR CURVES (LR): This tip is from Tobi Shinobi, a bright young newcomer on the PS scene. In the Tone Curves section, first adjust the Linear Curve (2nd white round circle) and add your points. Press ALT to reset the curve and ALT+click over the curve to set a point to adjust. Right click to delete point. The go to Parametric Curve and adjust – they work independently of each other. Use this order to add some finesse to your images.

I hope there were some new ideas presented in these tips. Some really great PS and LR gurus have some great ideas! It was fun putting this together. See ya soon again…..Digital Lady Syd