Recently I have been working hard at drawing and painting different types of images so a lot of what I will be blogging about in the next few months will be about this. As I have been learning (and this definitely has been a several year evolution), I found some “little known Photoshop tips” to me so I thought I would share them. Maybe there are a few new things for you to try out too!
But first a little about my image above. I felt compelled to try drawing something using Amedeo Modigliani’s basic style after viewing The Daily Art Magazine blog showing several of his images. The really elongated necks were not that appealing to me, but the facial expressions and slightly cartoon-looking lines in his portraits were very interesting. Which brings me to an Aaron Blaise class on Clear Expression where he teaches how to draw cartoonish facial emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, etc. (Most of his classes are very inexpensive, especially during his sales and he is a great teacher.) Aaron’s class was an excellent way to learn how to achieve some of the expressions used in Modigliani’s art. La Femme en blouse marine (Girl in a sailor collar) was used as the main example for my image.
For those of you who do not know or remember, the ~ or TILDE key (just above the left TAB key) can now be used as an Eraser using the same stroke as the brush being used when held down while stroking. PS added this a couple years ago and it is very handy – a great time-saver! If your brush is set to 30% Opacity or Flow, it will erase at this lower amount to blend back. Use the regular Eraser at 100% Opacity and Flow to make major changes. Below are listed the rest of the tips:
1. USE THE EDIT-> FADE TO REDUCE THE OPACITY OF A STROKE WITH THE MIXER BRUSH
I have always felt that the Mixer had a shortcoming since there was no way to control the actual Stroke Opacity, especially if the stroke looked correct, but maybe a little over the top when working in detailed areas. Using the Fade Command can really help with this – just remember it must be executed right after the stroke is made or it cannot be used. For the Mixer brush PS does not let you change the Mode but at least you can reduce the effect! I have the Fade Command set up on F4 as a shortcut key.
2. INCREASE THE BRUSH TIP APPEARANCE FOR PAINTING
A small but new feature in Photoshop 2023 and it seems to be very helpful to me. The brush dab icon is often hard to see when painting with a small size brush so often the SHIFT key is set to see where the brush is painting. PS now lets you change the boldness of the brush tip by going to Edit -> Preferences -> Cursors -> and changing the Brush Tip Outline to Extra Bold. It really makes a difference!
3. ALT + DRAGGING WITH THE SMUDGE TOOL TO SMUDGE USING THE FOREGROUND COLOR
This is one that never occurred to me, but when smudging in an image and more color needs to be added into an area, you do not have to switch to the Brush Tool to do this. Just press the ALT key while painting and the Foreground Color will show up – by dabbing, more color is added. Do take note that: 1) Everything depends on which Smudge Brush is being used. Kyle T. Webster’s free All Purpose Blend Smudge Brush in his Concept set will work quite well. Just make sure that the Foreground Color is the one to needed to add in and the Sample All Layers box is checked On if using a New Layer. If the color does not show up, try a different Smudge Brush; and 2) The Strength of the brush in the Options Bar usually needs to be adjusted – it seems the stronger the amount, the better the color. What I like is that just a touch of a different color from another part of the image can be added quickly to tie it into another object on your layer, and it also makes some really nice cloud colors. What is causing this to happen? The PS keyboard shortcut for the Finger Painting option is the ALT key so actually this is being turned on. The Finger Painting option simulates the effect that happens when you drag a finger through wet paint, and it uses the Foreground Color at the beginning of each stroke. When not On, the Smudge Tool uses the color under the brush at the beginning of each stroke, and this is why dabbing adds more color. (This info was from the great PS Guru Deke McClelland.) See next tip to make this work great!
4. REMOVE SPACING ON SMUDGE BRUSH TO GET A GREAT PAINTERLY LOOK
I have found the best way to find good brushes is find out what the artists who really are doing Digital Painting are using. Eric Elwell is one of these artists and has a set of brushes and a video that explained how he uses his Smudge Brushes. By turning off the Spacing in the Brush Settings panel, some very interesting results can be obtained. The slower the stroke, the closer the strokes are for a nice smudgy smooth transition; the faster the stroke, the brush uses the dab and stamps it along the brush path. Stroking an edge breaks up the edge. His theory is he can add soft and hard edges without having to change tools. To test it, the same Kyle’s All Purpose Blend Smudge Brush was selected, but this time the spacing was turned off – not much happened. By checking out Eric’s EE TEx Smudge brush settings, these changes were made to Kyle’s brush: Shape Dynamics (no Control for Size Jitter), Angle Jitter set to 3%, and Angle Jitter Control set to Direction; Transfer checked with 0 Strength and no Control; Noise checked, and in Options Bar Strength set to 92%. (Each of Eric’s Smudge brushes has different settings but all have Spacing unchecked.) What is really great is that if the ALT key is now pressed, the Foreground color comes out brilliantly when Strength is set to 92% and looks totally painterly! By varying the Smudge brush size and direction, some very nice stroke effects can be obtained, even with Kyle’s All Purpose Blend Smudge Brush. You can download Eric’s brushes that I have here, and I believe he has newer sets for sale up on Artstation. His digital artwork is very good! When several of Kyle’s other Smudge brush settings were opened, he has several where the spacing is unchecked and give some very interesting results.
5. HOW TO EASILY CREATE A FACE CIRCLE OR OVAL WITH EDIT -> STROKE
I have a horrible time getting the first circle or oval drawn on my canvas. Why didn’t I think of this before I don’t know! First create a New Layer, select the brush for your basic outline drawing, and choose a color, usually black. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and drag out your shape – use the Space Bar to reposition on the canvas. Then go to Edit -> Stroke and set 2 pixels (or however large you want the line to be) and press enter. Then deselect (CTRL+D) to see the line. Free Transform (CTRL + T) can be used to adjust it more if needed.
6. HOW TO ERASE A SPECIFIC COLOR WITH THE PAINT BUCKET TOOL
One again something I did not know. To remove a specific color from a layer (or All Layers box is checked), select the Bucket Tool or CTRL + G (located with the Gradient Tool in the Toolbar). Set the Mode to Clear and Tolerance (mine is set to 32 at the moment). Turn On the Contiguous box if you want only one area to be removed, otherwise all the selected color on the layer(s) will be removed. Just click in the image on the color to removed, and away it goes. If not enough is removed, change the Tolerance to a higher amount or click again on what was missed. This is so fast! Remember to set the Mode back to Normal when you finish.
7. QUICK TOOL TOGGLE KEYS THAT SAVE A LOT OF TIME
Sharpen and Blur Tools toggle with ALT key
Sponge Tool: ALT + SHIFT + D Desaturates and ALT + SHIFT + S Saturates
Dodge and Burn Tools toggle with ALT key: ALT + SHIFT + S targets Shadows, ALT + SHIFT + M targets Midtones, and ALT + SHIFT + H targets Highlights
I hope some of these tips are ones you did not know. I am using several of them often now. I plan to experiment more with the Smudge brushes to get better at the digital effects I want to create. Let me know if you know of any other tips I may have missed. It is amazing how much Photoshop can do! Have a great one!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone! It has been a while since I posted. Sometimes life just gets in the way, but it feels good to get back to doing Photoshop and painting again! I have been watching a lot of creative videos. Sophie’s pix above was one created by following a video called How to Paint a Pet Portrait with Nathan Brown (Part1) using Procreate. Since I am not an Apple person I can’t use Procreate, but the video gave such clear instructions that it was easily followed using Photoshop. Part 2 demonstrates a color effect which I will put on-line soon. The charcoal look actually fits Sophie’s actual gray fur color so I kind of like this representation of her. The drawing was sketched and a lot of Photoshop painting was done with Kyle T Webster’s Real Watercolor Alcohol brush in black (note-this brush is set to Hard Light mode). That gave the texture feel to her fur.
The image above was mainly painted in Corel Painter 2022, but at the end a couple PS brushes were used to fill in some areas. Not sure if I could have created the same image in Rebelle, but maybe. If you have Painter and want to learn more about how to create different types of images, check out Corel’s Painter Webinars See More Tutorials Tab at top of this link. By following the Winter Fantasy Fine Art Webinar (above link opens to this) from 2020 by Elite Painter Master Karen Bonaker, this image was painted. There are several different people creating the various tutorials so lots to learn here!
Regarding Karen, she has an excellent site called Digital Arts Academy (DAA) – this is where the brushes and papers can be downloaded for this video (just click on Products tab -> Sale, click on 2 for second page to download the Mountain Majesty paper, and on 3 to download her Pastel Gold Brush Bundle category). Also all kinds of tips and other great digital artist paintings are displayed on her site. This was a really fun project to do and I learned a lot about mountain landscape painting. Thank you Karen!
Another painting software called Rebelle 5 by Escape Motions gave a very deep discount before they released version 6 this week. Thought I would share my opinion of it since it is a fairly simple program and plays nicely with PS. Rebelle 5 was used to paint this Pixabay guitar image above (I played the guitar in the past and am very partial to guitar images). To begin, the model was hand sketched on a layer over the Pixabay image in Photoshop. Then it was taken into Rebelle where their Acrylic Flat Oily brush was selected to paint over the model’s skin and guitar. Since Rebelle has a psd file format capability, the image was brought into PS where my basic workflow was used. The background is my SJ Pastel Watercolor and can be downloaded from Deviant Art, and the fence is from PixelSquid (great site for compositing). Back in PS, the tones on the skin used a Dodge and Burn technique I wrote about in 2016, but is still really relevant. The technique is described nicely in Sam Peterson’s You Tube video called Controlling Light & Shadow (he gives you starter files to use for practicing). His Dodge and Burn brushes (that can be easily created) worked nicely with this image. It is very easy to make a small action to create a 50% gray layer for this technique. A trick to getting smooth edges on the objects and skin is to use a PS Mixer Blender brush – the one I mainly use is David Bellevieu brush that is a free download at this link – to add color just switch it from a blender to adding color by going to the Options Bar and turning on the Current Brush Load – then sample a color(s) (ALT+click in image) for painting. (If you see a multi-color swatch in Current Brush Load field, can open drop-down to select Load Solid Colors Only.) And yes, Viveza was used to get the final image results – still my top PS plug-in!
Overall this is a pretty good program, easy to use, and I plan on painting with it more. I was really surprised that PS has not tried to improve their brush engine since CS6 – Rebelle is a small program but it definitely fills in painting brushes where PS lacks.
So when I am just playing around, usually with a new brush set in either PS or Painter, I end up doing something like this. I called her “My New Plumped Lips” – I have to chuckle when I see them on some of the famous people images. I do not consider myself an expert in cartooning, but it sure is fun for me to do. If you are taking up digital painting, try to find some type of doodling that is just fun – it is amazing how your skill set in other areas of your painting will increase! The above was done mostly in Corel Painter with some clean up in PS which is what I usually do. The background is one I created in Painter and I use all the time, just changing the colors for the image. The hair was painted using the same brush that the mountains used above. I might also add that a long-time friend of mine, Kerry Mitchell, makes some really terrific digitally painted lady portraits, all in Rebelle – check her out!
I have several other items I have been working on and will try to get a blog out more often. Hope everyone is having a Happy Holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Just a refresher blog on what to do if you want to do a quick little painting of a photo you have. This cute downloaded image is by Traci Stewart at Unsplash. It was actually a great one to practice on to try out some different painterly brushes. It takes a bit of planning and time to get a good result – not unlike painting a drawn image. What is a good way to start painting a favorite photo as many people really want painted images of their children, grandchildren or pets? Photoshop makes it pretty easy to get some great results without using their filters.
The obvious way to do this is just to use New Layers when changing colors or brushes and name the layers (with the object or brush name if changing to different ones for different areas) so you know what was done. I did a blog a while back on how to use the PS Mixer brushes with several links for more info – see A Little Digital Painting in Photoshop and New Photoshop Brushes! blog – contains give very painterly results. Another thing to check is the size of the image if it is not your photo. Go to Image -> Image Size and check out what the resolution is set to and how the large the image is. If it is set to 72 dpi, uncheck Resample and change the amount to something more reasonable like 240 or 300, especially if printing. Then recheck Resample and the size of the file should be much more manageable.
There are a few PS people that do teach digital painting on photos and I have written about them in the past. Below are my recommended resources for learning this technique.
- Check out some videos by Lisa Carney, the famous poster retoucher. She did a course in 2017 at Creative Live called Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC – a few things are slightly out-of-date or PS has added some new features not covered (like using the ~ key to erase instead of the Brush Mode called Clear – they do the same thing and the ~ key is so much faster). But overall she does an excellent job of showing how to use the different media types of PS brushes to paint in PS and what the various brush settings do. It is not as thorough as Kyle T. Webster’s Adobe Creative Cloud YouTube videos, but Lisa’s are a great place to start if you are interested in trying out different brush types for painting. Currently her class is on sale for $24 – Creative Live runs sales frequently and this class has 22 not too long videos which are downloadable when bought. The best part of this class is the accompanying 92-page PDF which I have found really helpful. Covers all the information she covers and more. The child image used her class information.
- There is a photographer/painter called Lori Jill that did some really nice painting classes at Udemy. Her course called Turn Photographs into Digital Paintings is an excellent course (although it is from 2014 I think), and is often on sale for a very inexpensive amount (right now it is about $12). I really enjoyed her teaching style and the class contains resources where she teaches you how to use them (an action, brushes, and several images). The Victorian House image below used Lori’s techniques. She also has a class on “Digital Pet Paintings using Photoshop” and “Digital Painting Pinup Portraits from a Photograph” which are also really fun to do. I might add that Udemy has several other digital painting classes you might want to check out. Unfortunately you cannot download the videos, but they will always be available to you when logged in.
- I would be remiss if I did not include the fabulous Adobe Guru Jack Davis and all he has done for the artistic flavor of PS alone. I have written several blogs on his Creative Live videos, which are now rather old but still relevant – an older Adobe Max YouTube video covers a lot of what is in the course. The last image below was from a previous blog. His Creative Live course is called Painting with Adobe Photoshop and is usually offered at a really reasonable amount. ($24 as of today) It contains 40 videos (all are downloadable and almost 16-hours of teaching) covering all the PS and LR (ACR) tools for painting. The biggest problem is that his action and presets can no longer be downloaded from his Facebook page. The presets were all the same as those in is Wow! books – nothing updated for this. I think the action is the same one Dr. Russell Brown of Adobe fame created with his Watercolor Panel for CS6. I hope that Creative Live will fix Jack’s link soon or include the info in his download. But even so, the videos are excellent and very entertaining.
Here are a few of the brushes used to get the child’s image effects. Some of these brushes were suggested by Lisa in her course 30-minute video called Impressionist Brush that show how this is done. The sky and tree background were painted on separate layers using Kyle’s Impressionist Brushes set – French Sharp Block brush. To download his brushes, go to the Brushes Panel’s top right pop-out menu and choose “Get More Brushes” – it takes you to the Creative Cloud login after which you can download hundreds of brushes. Just download to your computer, then go back to the same Panel menu and click Import to add them in or follow my next tip. A trick with .abr files (or most of PS files like Patterns, Swatches, Gradients, etc. which have unusual extensions) is that usually you can double-click them and they go into PS immediately. Watch out now that there is Fresco, it also uses these files and double-clicking them might open Fresco up if you just upgraded or used it. To stop it from doing this, in your Windows file folder right click on the .abr file and select Open With, then select Choose Another App and choose Adobe Photoshop 2022 and check Always use this app to open .abr files. Now it will always open PS when the brush file is double clicked.
For the grass Grut’s OI Stump Trough was used – it looks like grass and was perfect for this image. Grut Brushes are one of my favorite brush makers and he gives away a new brush every week so it is always fun to see what is coming up. Also Kyle’s Real Watercolor – Stamp Damp Paper was used in the background to get the slightly foggy effect and to make the background less noticeable. The baby’s skin was painted with Kyle’s Natural Edge Texture Stain and mixer was used to smooth it out a little (see David Belliveau free Mixer – it is the best). Both of the watercolor brushes were recommended by Lisa. The rabbit is from PixelSquid. The flowers were from Jessica Johnson at Creative Couture – she is the Pattern Stamp Brush guru. My favorite set from her is called the Romantic English Garden set and the flowers were created using her brush #35 and Pattern 25. You should check out her samples if you have never tried the Pattern Stamp Tool (it is housed with the Clone Stamp Tool). I painted the flower in and Viveza 2 was used to overall sharpen up the image. A Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added at the top using a turquoise color at 13% layer opacity to slightly soften the brightness of the image – it had seemed a bit overwhelming to me.
Here is an image created using Lori Jill’s course – this is one of my favorite painted photos. She has a similar style to Jack Davis’s techniques. I have painted many photos using her technique as the rather smooth effect is one I like.
The image below is one I did a while ago and shows some of Jack Davis’s techniques. His style is always very fun to use, but is a little less smooth than Lori’s technique.
I was surprised to find very little recent info out there of people who are teaching this. I will continue searching to find a few more current videos. Hope you check out a few of these painters who really do know how to use the PS brushes. Digital painting a photo is a great way to have some fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Which Tool to Use – Smudge or Mixer Brush? – has some brush settings to make a nice Mixer and Smudge brush
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
I have been working on getting my digital painting skills back up to speed and learning some new tips. Thought I would pass along a couple things I learned while creating these images this week – maybe some will help your workflow.
TIP 1: HAVE A BASIC IDEA OF WHAT TO CREATE. This image above may look simple, but it took forever to get this effect. Part of the problem is that I did not have a good “roadmap” of where the final composition should go so lots of bad choices were made before it was finished (in this case 7 iterations were made). One issue was finding a font that fit the the feel of the image (this one is from Design Cuts Nordica Collection where a slight Outer Glow layer style was added to it for contrast – the bear, which was later painted and redone to be a Polar Bear is included). So Tip One, if possible, is try to get a basic idea or make a sketch of where you want the image to go – it will save lots of time! That said, half the fun can be just experimenting which is what was done here. The eye is from a set called Mystic Sun Moon Logo Templates Kit by Olya Creative – it just looked so different!
TIP 2: MAKE LOTS OF LAYERS. The above contains 56 layers. Many digital painters will paint different elements and objects on different layers so they can be manipulated to get the correct opacity or effect needed to enhance the image. Then they merge them together. I am not that brave – usually I group the layers and close them up when finished, but never merge. Definitely start with many layers before merging.
TIP 3: WATCH FOR COLOR SHIFTS WITH STAMPED LAYERS. This is a problem that has driven me nuts for years. Once the layers are all finished, I find a final composite layer comprised of all layers merged into one is needed so a stroke layer style (set to Size 2-pixel, Position Inside, Opacity 100% and using a medium dark gray color) can be added for uploading to social media – it gives a nice hard edge differentiation for different formats. Often a color shift occurs when the merged or stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) is created. The Snow Tree image above had this problem – not sure why (it appears to happen when using some layer styles on one of the layers in the stack). To remove the color shift, set the stamped or merged layer to the Color blend mode and it will go back pretty much to the original look. Made the Snow Tree image just for fun to learn how to use Kyle’s Winter 2022 set of brushes – he has a good video called Illustration Masterclass New Photoshop Brushes for 2022 where he goes through every brush in the Winter 2022 set and Describes what it does. He also has one called Brush Hour with Kyle T Webster: The Winter 2022 Brush Set where he actually draws a scene using them. Used one of his tree brushes in the top photo left panel. The Font is called Thankful Sans.
TIP 4: TRY OUT NEW BRUSHES AND SAVE THE ONES YOU LIKE. This sounds like a very logical thing to do, but it is very easy to download new brushes and forget all about them. The Winter Wonderland image used just a set I have had for a while and never checked it out. It has lots of fun brushes – all are in a free set of 174 brushes called Lazy Brush Set by Vesner on DeviantArt. It is an older set from 2013, but the brushes work great with CS5 and above. The image used several and three were added to my Creative Brush group (and there are a lot of other brushes in there) for use when doing this type of art work. Check out my blog called Finding a Photoshop Brush in a Big Set for tips on how to find brushes you do not use that often but want to remember. If you do a screen copy or right click and Save As on the download page image of the brushes, it creates a jpg of the different brush strokes similar to the example sheets made in my referenced blog. In this image only the birds from Shadowhouse Creations free Birds Brush Set 4 were not Vesner brushes. To get the birds on the left-hand side to appear in the distance, a layer mask was added to the bird layer and the Gradient Tool set to Linear Gradient was used to diminish their appearance by dragging diagonally top left to bottom right.
TIP 5: HOW TO STOP LAG IN YOUR BRUSHES. It has come to my attention that some brushes just have more adjustments and PS has trouble making them zip along the image as fast as most artists would like.
- First of all, yes it is great to have the ability to add just a little more smoothing to your brushes other than the default 10% PS gives you. This is very helpful if sketching or outlining an object, but it can really slow down the painting process. Turn it off up in the Options Bar if the brush is really slowing down.
- Adjust the Spacing of your brush. For example if the brush size is 100 pixels and the Spacing is set to 100%, a new stamp occurs with each stroke separated by 1 pixel. The PS Default is 5% – lots of overlap of strokes which can cause painting to slow way down when lots of other settings are turned on in the brush so just bump up the Spacing a little to make it paint faster.
- Turn off the Extras like rulers or overlays that may be visible. It can affect painting, transforming and dragging layers onto the canvas. Go to View -> Show -> None to turn off. I never knew this but it was in an Optimize Photoshop Performance article by Adobe (other good info in it also).
- Minimize or turn off the Preview thumbnails in the Layers Panel. Each time you change a file, PS updates all the thumbnails visible in the Layer Panel (and also Channels Panel). This affects painting, moving, or nudging layers. And the more thumbnails visible, the greater the effect. I will check to see if making stamped layers and hiding the merged layers below will make it faster to paint, but it makes sense it would. To minimize or disable previews, go to the hamburger icon in the upper right of the Layers Panel and selection Panel Options – select either small size or None. If switching to the small size thumbnail, it can be handy to switch from Thumbnail Contents Entire Document default to Layer Bounds to be able to see what is in the layer easier.
- Close the Library Panel if it is not being used much by going to the hamburger icon and selecting close. This will make your computer and brushes run faster. Not sure how much this helps as I have not tried it, but it seems like it might.
TIP 6: COPYING SETTINGS FROM ONE BRUSH TO ANOTHER. In the Brush Settings Panel, click the little locks on the right side of the sections in the brush panel to copy those setting to a different brush. Be sure to turn them off in the brush with the new settings or they will get applied to the next brush used. This can be a little tricky but it is an easy way to copy setting over. Very helpful if creating a new brush and wanting to use similar settings from one of your favorite brushes.
TIP 7: WORK WITH JUST A FEW BRUSHES AND REALLY LEARN HOW TO USE THEM. Similar to Tip 4, it is easy to get distracted by a new brush and think it is really so much better than your stand-by brushes just to find out that it really is not as good as it seemed. I am still using a pastel brush created back in 2017 to do a lot of the basic painting – it is a brush that I am very comfortable using and have learned how it works with different settings added. The Polar Bear in the top image was painted using it. (See my How to Create My Favorite Brush Blog.)
I hope these tips will help you a little with your digital painting and art. I am slowly learning more about this from the many wonderful digital artists that use Photoshop for their jobs. It is amazing what the brushes can do! Hope everyone is getting through winter just fine and are Waiting for Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Hi everybody! I know it has been a while since I blogged, but I really have been busy with Photoshop! Major project going through all brushes! So many to choose from and big decisions on which to use. Of course this is a whole other blog on how to sort through this. The portrait image above, by Christopher Campbell at Unsplash, is one that worked nicely with the brushes for the painting effect required in this blog.
Adobe Creative Cloud has Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge videos that are released for Photoshop every few weeks. A couple months ago Sam Peterson, an illustrator and painter, ran two weeks of some really fabulous PS videos. One was called Brushes where he gives you a starter file and walks you through how to create a similar effect as shown above. The image used PS’s Camera Raw, Angled Strokes and Oil Paint filters to begin the painterly process as Sam demonstrates. He also showed how to create a background to match the image to be painted. This photo used a brush called Clay for the background that was in Kyle T. Webster’s India Set he sold for charity (unfortunately no longer available). It is basically a chunky block brush. For a very similar brush, check out the Brix Brush in Kyle’s Summer 2020 brush set or for the brushe, Disastro or Disastro Spatter in his Summer 2021 Brushes, which uses both the foreground and background colors (press harder or lighter to get variations and a cool texture effect). Lots of different brushes were tried before finding a background brush I liked – but then this is half the fun! For info on how to download and load Kyle’s free PS sets, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog – scroll down to the How To Find His Brushes and Loading the Brushes sections.
The Mixer Blender
Sam gave guidance on what brush settings to use, but it is up to you to find a brush on which to apply these settings. This process is using a Mixer brush to blend, not a Smudge brush which a lot of people call a blender brush. Mixer brushes are a more advanced version of the Smudge. It does not appear Kyle uses Mixer brushes very often for blending as there are only a few in his sets (there are several Mixers in his Megapack Real Oils section will work nicely). For something like digital painting, I would recommend using Mixer Blenders for this exact and complicated blending. The main thing to remember is that the Wet and Load amounts, which Sam sets at 15% to start, can be adjusted “on the fly” to get a more or less painterly effect from the brush. He did not change his Mix and Flow which were both at 50%. Still okay to change if it helps. Also, if a color is needed to be added in, like for a cheek or lips, there are several ways to do this. I find the easiest is to select a regular brush and splash a bit of color in for blending with the Mixer. In another blog I will discuss some of these Mixer points.
One of my favorite Mixer (blender) brushes, and one I used extensively on this image, is by David Belliveau (free download of 4 brushes at the link and also check out his amazing drawing tutorials – link to my blog on David’s technique is listed below). The settings Sam suggested worked fine with this brush (set to 195 pixels). When set to 15 pixels, used David’s settings to do the detail work on the image, like the eyes, lips, and some hair – mainly where the focal point is, after the original blending was done. The larger brush was used to soften down all the other edges other than the eyes and hair by the right eye which were left sharpened as discussed below. As a reminder, once the settings have been added into the Brush Settings panel for the Mixer, save it down as a new brush. Otherwise all the settings will be lost if you go to a different brush and want to come back to this Mixer.
Once a brush is chosen, it was time to paint with the Mixer – Sam seemed to only paint on one layer, but I found it much better to split it up for the different areas being painted. For the right image below, here is a list of some of the layers created – started with a basic once over on the face smoothing the edges like in Sam’s tutorial, then evening out the lighting effect on the next layer, added color to her cheeks, eyelash layer, pupils layer, iris layer, catchlight layer, fixed the shirt on another layer – just duplicated part of it and blended it together, some hair strands added on another, and lips painted. As you can see, it is a bit labor intensive, but the results are worth it. By putting everything on separate layers, corrections can be made really easily. Below on the left is the original image and on the right is the one that looks like a pretty decent retouch – so what makes it look more painterly?
Getting the Final Painterly Look
Mainly adding a texture is a key to getting the more painterly effect needed to sell the look. Sam has a texture in the PSD file he provides and several other brushing suggestions are given to get this look. Also using Color Lookup Adjustment Layers, and possibly Gradient Map Adjustment Layers, using different blend modes and opacities gives some nice painterly effects. And do not be afraid to stack several of the same kind of adjustments using different blend modes and opacities. Just remember that usually a Curves or Levels Adjustment Layer must be added on top to bring back some contrast. So this is what was done on this image to finish up the “look:”
- Liquify was applied to enlarge her eyes just little and give her mouth a bit of an upturn (this filter is so cool!).
- A stamped layer was created and a Sharpen action was run on the image – a black layer mask was applied and just her eyes, her hair strand on the right and a small section of her ear lob were sharpened.
- A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to 80% opacity was run using On1-Heat Wave LUT – one that adds warmth into the image – any warm one you will probably get this effect. This really filled her face with a beautiful light effect.
- Another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added and set to 12% layer opacity called Teal Orange Plus Contrast preset (not sure where I got this). It darkened down the blues in her shirt.
- Added a Levels Adjustment Layer to flatten down the blacks a little since paintings do not have true blacks in them usually.
- Added French Kiss Tableaux Mirage-2 Texture – used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the texture with Saturation set to -100 so only the strokes from her texture show up. The texture was set to Overlay blend mode at 46% layer opacity. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.) These layers were grouped and set to 62% Group opacity – then the Group’s layer style was opened and the Blend If Slider was set to This Layer Black tab split to 0/86 and Underlying Layer White tab split to 121/255 so the strokes showed up just like I wanted them.
- Next on a New Layer below the Group file, a brush was created from the texture and used to cover the whole image to give it more of a painterly look – the layer was set to a reddish brown brush color, Color Burn blend mode and 93% opacity. It adds some nice soft canvas looking lines in the image, especially on the face. (See link to my blog on how to do this below.)
- A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the Group above and the Saturation was increased (+44) and Lightness lowered (-38) to darken down and add more color to the image.
- Last step was a final Levels Adjustment Layer – Black tab to 16 and Output Levels black set to 5.
Hopefully you can get an idea what really goes into these digital paintings. And I am still not sure it is really a “Painting” since the original image was used, but it definitely looks more painterly than just a good retouching effect. I still look at it and see places where it could be improved, but it is a learning process. Definitely it took me several hours just to figure out the Mixer blending to get the effects needed. Enjoyed being back and plan on doing this a lot more. ……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter – David Belliveau tutorial information
How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color (You Tube video link in blog)
Sorry I have not been blogging as much as I have in the past. I have been watching a lot of videos and trying to figure out how to use the Photoshop brushes to actually give a reasonable painterly brush stroke. There does not seem to be much on how to actually do this – only a few digital artists talk about it. I felt like the above image starts to emulate painterly strokes as it might look in Corel Painter, but not sure about if it emulates real media results. (In my Painting Acrylics Digitally – Can It Be Done? blog, I did get a pretty decent acrylic look.) The original above image is from Unsplash by Luca Bravo in Arles, France and was posted in my Beautiful Blue Door Tidbits Blog 3 years ago that used the Mixer brushes. For this blog I have been experimenting to try and get a consistent painterly stroke and finding settings that might work on other brush tips for a similar look. I have listed throughout this blog several free resources for brushes used in the above so check out the hyperlinks. I am also finding out this is a huge subject to cover so I am just addressing a small portion this week.
Creating the Sketch (black outline)
In the above the black lines were drawn in to create the layout of the original image. Used the PS Megapack Inkbox and Kyle’s Clean as a Whistle brush – lots of Click + SHIFT’s to draw straight lines (and it still is not perfect). When drawing a horizontal or vertical line, just keep holding down the SHIFT key while dragging to see how it is looking. This was handy for this image. If needing a more diagonal line, it will not work. When doing regular sketching, I usually use Grut – I Qwillo brush ($1 for all his individual brushes). Nicolai has an enormous number of fabulous brushes on this site (his Cloud set is the best around) . Every Monday there is a free brush of the week to download and is a great way to try out different media brushes. In this case a little richer stronger line was needed. So I would suggest trying different brushes until you get the line effect you need.
I have been trying to stick mostly to Kyle’s brushes here that can downloaded easily to try tout if you are using the later versions of Photoshop. For more info on how to download his PS brushes, see my Kyle T. Webster’s Photoshop Brushes blog. BTW Kyle has just released his Adobe PS Spring 2021 Brush set, so give them a try. The Edvard Munch brush set first appeared in 2017 in a 4-part video series called Get Started with Digital Painting Photoshop – they are not part of the PS2021 brushes, but are a free download here at the Adobe Creative Cloud. He found the Munch Filbert Dry Mixer gives a sort of an impasto look. To get the painterly strokes on each side of the door, I liked Kyle’s Munch Medium Flat brush but I did make some setting adjustments. I am using the brushes below to get some nice painterly strokes. I did switch a bit between them to get the right stroke effect on the walls.
The first brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Medium Flat-painting (150 px) and does not have much color variation but does use both the foreground and background colors with Pen Pressure (this means press light and background color appears and hard for foreground color when using a tablet.) Only the settings listed were changed: Texture section – was changed to one I imported from Painter, but the Rough pattern texture (Invert checked) seems pretty close (it can be found in the Photoshop default Erodible Textures set) and setting Brightness to -22, Contrast 57, Depth 19%, Minimum Depth 82%, Depth Jitter 27%, and Control to Pen Pressure; in Color Dynamics section checked the Apply Per Tip and set the Control to Pen Pressure; and in Transfer section set Opacity Jitter to 38%, Minimum to 55%, Flow Jitter 13% and Minimum 74%.
The second brush was named SJ KTW Munch-Med Flat-Painting Var1-try sim colors (175 px) to remind me how to use the brush. These settings were changed: Texture – changed it to same Rough pattern (Invert checked), Brightness to -13, Contrast to 33, Depth to 14%, Min Depth to 21%, Depth Jitter to 69%, and Control Pen Pressure; Color Dynamics changes were to check Apply Per Tip, Control set to Pen Pressure, and Saturation Jitter to 4%, Brightness 4%, and Purity to -20%; and Transfer set to Minimum Opacity Jitter 84%, Flow Jitter 43%, and Min 28%. Also the Dual Brush section was opened and the same brush,130 (size) Kyle munch flat medium1, was selected – should already show a Size of 130 px, Spacing 17%, Scatter with Both Axes checked, Scatter to 202% and Count 1; and finally Wet Edges section checked.
Try changing the Brush Tip Shape Spacing to adjust how much texture is showing up. Below are examples of how the strokes look all using the same foreground and background colors. If you have a different Texture pattern you want to try, go ahead but do adjust the sliders. Just be sure to save any brush variants you like when finished. See if you can get some nice stroke effects for solid areas especially. I would suggest trying a different brush tip (check out the list provided in the Brush Tip Shape section and just select one you like) using similar settings (or the settings from any brush you like). This is a great way to create your own paint stroke effect. I will talk more on this in a later blog.
The bottom sidewalk and door pane effect was created using Kyle’s India Brushes Clay brush that I purchased recently for only $1 for his humanitarian cause of Covid 19 in India. (Available until May 10th.) All these brushes are great but I especially like the effect of this one. Kyle also has a free Builder Brush available at his website seems to do a similar result.
The other brushes used in this image were from Jessica Johnson and her fabulous Pattern Stamp brushes – I always seem to be using them! What I love most about Jessica is that she gives out samples of her different types of brushes which is always very helpful. This time it was the pattern at the top that was a give-away called 3 Modern Renaissance which included a brush and a pattern. Check out her You Tube video Free Photoshop Brush & Metallic Color Palette: Inspired by Dior Couture – Modern Renaissance to get her freebies (see 4-13-Free Renaissance Brush zip file) – and be sure to sign up for her E-mail to get notified when she has new brushes and patterns to release. In this case the Modern Renaissance was used as a regular brush and painted on in a darker gray color. Also used her Moody Floral Bold pattern stamp brush with her English Garden pattern (TM12) was used for the colorful flowers on the window sill and by the cat. When you go to her freebies for the Modern Renaissance brush, click on the 3-15-Free Brush Mon zip folder which contains the Moody Floral Brush and an accompanying pattern. I just love the flower stroke with this brush.
One of Chris Spooner’s free Subtle Grain Textures (6) was applied to give the wall a bit of a cement feel and tie it in as a building. It was masked off the cat and windows. He has lots of nice free resources at his site. The name plate with instructions are in my blog called How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images – one of my most popular blogs.
The large black cat is part of a set called Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Skybox Creative that cost $12. If you check every Monday several items are available at Free Goods of the Week which is how I got this vector cat. To give him the cool contour (like my gray cat Sophie), a Bevel & Emboss layer style was added using an Inner Bevel, Smooth, Depth 230%, Direction Up, Size 68 and Soften 0. Then in the Gloss Contour, the Gaussian contour was selected – then Highlight Mode Screen, White, at 29% Opacity and Shadow Mode Multiply, Black, at 32% Opacity. The Contour was checked and the Contour was set to one by Jenni and I have no idea where I got it. Just play around a little with – it give some really cool 3D effects. The other cat is from a set called Cat Family by teddybearcholla (found in a very old Photoshop Creative magazine). A Bevel and Emboss layer style was also used on this cat, with a Depth of 532%, Up, Size 7 px and Soften 0 – Highlight Opacity set to Screen and 77% opacity and Shadow Mode set to Multiply and 33% opacity. A Watercolor pattern texture was added and set to a Depth of +26%. The layer styles really gave both cat items a fresh look.
Above is a variation of the same image with just a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer with a Cerulean preset at 25% layer opacity and a Gradient Map set to Overlay at 34% layer opacity that used purple and pink randomized color added. Quite a different look. Eventually I hope to get an E-book or PDF together that can be used as a basic guide to show some of the little tricks the sliders do. For example, did you know that if you put the Shape Dynamics Size Jitter Control (even with no Jitter set) to Pen Pressure, the actual Brush stroke appears smaller. Check the Brush Preview in the Brush Settings panel to see the range between the thick and thin stroke now. There is a lot more to this, but that is just an example showing how the stroke will be different with just one setting change. And the people who do paint digitally use all kinds of different settings to get their brushes to work. In the meantime, I will try to pop in more often! Have some fun trying out some new brushes……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just realized this weekend that I have been posting at this site for 8 years! Thought I would put up a little image I worked on this week of 3 little sparrows – they seem to be in their very colorful costumes so here they are to help me celebrate! I have to laugh when I think about my first blog – I thought I was really doing something. (See My First Post – Painted Oleander blog) Over the years it has evolved and has become something I look forward to creating. It has also been a great way to really learn Photoshop – would recommend it if you like to write. And now doing videos really steps up how to present the information and new challenges. I will continuing to add more videos over the next year. I still plan to stay on top of the new plugins and Photoshop update which I always so much fun to try out.
Actually I was practicing painting (which oddly enough my first post was painting with Mixer Brushes in CS5) – have to do this to stay good at it. Decided to brighten them up a bit to make them look a little more interesting and friendly. Basically followed my standard workflow: Paint a flat primary layer, then Highlights and Shadows layers, some fur or feather layer, blending with the Mixers and Smudge brushes layers, and last step to add in anything that needs to be done to finish up the image. The background is one I painted in Corel Painter. The balloon from hanging air balloon free mock up is from Deal Jumbo and used Gavtrain’s Instant Confetti Action. Applied a speech blurb and a couple text layers. That was it.
Hope everyone is still enjoying my blogs and finding them useful when needed. It has been so much fun to share all the great Photoshop techniques I have learned over the years. Hopefully I will still be blogging for another 8 years!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week still having some summer fun. Have not been painting that much recently, so I decided to share a couple little things I am learning. Since I have been playing around with faces and portraits a little (Lisa Carney reruns have been on Creative Live recently and she is the best retoucher), I thought I would attempt a little painting in Photoshop. The above image was taken from a beautiful photo at Unsplash by Roksolana Zasiadko. First the image has to be cleaned up and the subject put on its own layer using some sort of selection process. I could not get her hair extracted properly in PS, even with a little “channel pulling” (using the channel with the best contrast to make a selection) to make the selection, so I improvised by doing using the Select and Mask command before painting in the missing hair. Then lots of layers of painting and retouching on the face . I cannot tell how important it is to develop a set of brushes for this type of work. So for example, I used the brush that was in my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog using a very small size to paint in the eyelashes. David Belliveau’s mixer brush was used to smooth skin. (A link to his free brushes are with his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog.) To add the hair, one of Aaron Blaise’s Lion Leopard Fur Brush was used at a large size. It worked amazingly well by just sampling lighter and darker colors. Added one of my orange light leaks (one I created using my How to Create Light Leaks to use Over Again blog) to the right side to lighten it up and give a sunny feel. One of my Corel Painter textures was used as a background. On the top a layer used one of 2 Lil’ Owls (for website, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Creative Masks set to Screen blend mode at 31% layer opacity for a little detail effect on the side. Just a lot of experimenting with brushes and effects. If you have a great photo to start with, it is not that hard. Still, it takes a lots of practicing to get the digital look just right – hope to spend some more time on this this summer!
I discovered that using Topaz Impression2 to help your digital art is just fine, and then take art to the next level with your painting. This shot of a coleus plant was taken in my front yard – they grow almost like weeds once planted, but they are so pretty, and there are lots of pattern varieties. It took quite a bit of clean up to get to a point where the painting could begin. The plants were selected and placed on their own layer – much easier than the portrait with the hair above. Then the selected object was taken into Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) Impression 2 was opened and my SJ Van Gogh Painting Start preset was applied – can be downloaded in the Topaz Community by searching for sj space. (These are the settings if choose to use: Started with Van Gogh II preset and made these changes: Stroke Type 01, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.13, Paint Volume 0.20, Large Brush Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.81, Stroke Rotation 0, Rotation Variation, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.68, Stroke Length 0.58, Spill 0, smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Saturation 0.17; Lighting Brightness 0.09 and Contrast -0.04; and no Texture.) For this image, the Orange, Aqua, and Green Colors were also adjusted. Next Jai Johnson’s Daily Textures Explorations 10 was added underneath and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was set above to get the background colors.
Several new layers were painted using my SJ 3-Pastel-Van Gogh TI1 brush – this is a brush I created just for painting this type of image. To make your own, follow my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog but with a couple important changes. First a small square was selected using the Marquee Tool showing a part of the plant Impression layer that showed some nice contrast and brush strokes in it. It was turned into a Pattern by going to Edit -> Define Pattern and name it. (I named mine TI Van Gogh). Next the Brush Panel Texture section was opened. Select the Pattern drop-down (little arrow on right side of pattern swatch) and go to the very bottom where the new Pattern is located. The setting for the pattern I created are: Scale 46%, Brightness -46, Contrast 34, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Color Dodge, Depth 38% and Depth Jitter 12%. Try adjusting all these settings to fit your particular pattern. This brush gives a nice stroke effect at both larger and smaller sizes. Then open the Color Dynamics section and check Apply per Tip, set the Hue Jitter to 2%, and Brightness Jitter to 11%. (It was used on the hair in a few places on the top image.) This is the only brush used in the Coleus picture and basically I dabbed around on each leaf to get the look I wanted. And since the image is a composite, the plant edges were painted over slightly using the brush at a little larger size and sampling the background color all around – this blends the edges much better so it does not look like you just popped the plant on the background. To finish off, another texture from Jai called Be My Valentine was added on top – it was set to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity. Another Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture (ALT+click between layers) to set the color correctly. Finally finished off with a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and a Levels Adjustment Layer to get the final tone and color correction.
Well it may sound like a lot of work, but I am finding using the new brush is very nice for painting, with no change of pattern. I did notice after several attempts to get the correct feel to this image that using a texture that matches the painting style being used is very helpful. And I was surprised how easy it was to get nice hair effects by creating your own hair. Until next week, have a good one – I hope to try a little more experimenting with these techniques……Digital Lady Syd
This week’s blog is sponsored by the word “Confused” – I can’t seem to make up my mind how I want to paint digitally! I do one version, then try it differently, and realize I like both version, but they are very different. And I am finding out that I can’t seem to settle on one program or plug-in – sometimes I have to use everything but the “kitchen sink” to get the results I like! Therefore, this week I am just going to share a few things I have painted recently, do a little image comparison, and explain what I learned from each image. Maybe you might get a few ideas that will help your creative process, and let me know of any other suggestions.
Painter and Photoshop
I like the above photo of neighboring dachas on a dirt road near Minsk in Belarus. This image was basically painted in Corel Painter. The brushes used were created from a short Corel video called Reason #2 – Cloning Feature by Melissa Gallo. The basic colors and shapes were cloned in roughly following her basic steps. The image was then brought into Photoshop where Melissa Gallo’s Painted Texture Embossed Fabric Warm Paper was set to Color blend mode. Just the dachas and greenery along the trail were painted back. This gave a beautiful yellow orange feel to the sky and looked pretty nice already! On a New Layer on top a Cool Grunge Mixer brush (碎块) in Blur’s Good Brush 5.1 Pro set (a wonderful huge free download of all kinds of Photoshop brushes including several really nice Mixer brushes!) was used in a beige-white color to add some texture mainly to the sky. Also used this brush, 透明水色 – 2(正片叠底), to add more grunge on another layer. On a New Layer on top of this, Fay Sirkis’s (a Corel Painter Master) Fays #2 tap n blend brush (one of my favorite mixer brushes – if you are a Kelby One member, her fabulous painting brushes are all downloadable for free from her webinars posted on the site) was used to clean up some of the painted edges from Painter. What really popped this image was a Selective Color Adjustment Layer that was added next and just the Reds Colors were changed to give a more pinkish tint to the overall image. A little frame I had created in Painter previously was added to finish off the image.
What I learned from this image: It seems that at my stage of learning, I am still heavily relying on Photoshop. My results when Painter is used has a much more abstract feel to them. I think it is okay to use both programs to get that final result if you are comfortable going back and forth between the programs. Also, you have got to create some brushes that you can use easily. Otherwise it can be overwhelming. Melissa’s Painter brushes were a great place for me to start, then adjust them to get the right stroke effect. I will add that Fay Sirkis is another artist with fabulous brushes and I use them a lot.
Photoshop, Alien Skin Snap Art 4, and Topaz ReStyle
I tried to create a different painterly effect with the same image as the first one. I did a lot of experimenting with the image to get this more “photorealistic” look to the image. I like the results, but it took a long time to get it the way I liked. First in Lightroom Seim Power Workflow 4 (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog Sampler Super HDR X preset (free download that contains some really nice presets) was used to brighten up the image first. In Photoshop some clean up was done to remove the electrical lines and a box, and flowers were copied and added to the bottom front. The Warp Tool was used to get a nice effect. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) everything I could think of was added. Two Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer, two layer textures, Alien Skin Snap Art 4, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle, Nik Viveza 2, two Curves Adjustment Layers, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer, and a Blender Mixer Brush layer. Whew! At least I got to experiment a lot to decide which tools and plug-ins work best with my painterly style. Lots of fun!
What I learned from this image: You do not have to do a lot of painting to get a really nice painterly look in an image. The plug-ins worked nicely instead of a lot of hand painting – just one layer used the Mixer Brush to clean up a few things. But beware, if you really want an overall artistic feel to an image, it will probably require some initial work in Painter.
This was fun to paint! The colors and lines were so bold and beautiful in this sign indicating the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando. And it was relatively easy to do! Basically in Lightroom added Seim Power Workflow (free sampler link with this preset) Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset and Dave Delnea’s LR Develop Presets Backlight Vertical Right preset (love both these presets). Then in Photoshop Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures May Garden was added on top of image with a layer mask. Using my Chalk Brush (Adobe Chalk Brush 60 with a Shape Dynamics set to 19%) set to black at 30% opacity brush, the major parts of the image were painted back – actually quite a bit was painted back. The rest involved using the Chalk Brush as a regular brush, Mixer Brush, Eraser Brush and Clone Stamp Brush to get it looking like I wanted it to look. Just be sure to save the altered regular brush to your Brush Presets so you can select it for the other types of brushes. When finished, the Camera Raw filter was opened up and a Radial Filter was used to direct the view and lighten up the focal point, the red door.
What I learned from this image: One favorite brush can do a lot in an image, especially in Photoshop. Find one you like and practice using it. I am liking my Chalk Brush more and more as I become better at painting.
Painter, Photoshop and Topaz ReStyle
What I really love about Painter is that the colors seem to be so much more vivid which gives your images a bit more of a painterly appeal. I am still trying to get comfortable with a more abstract feel to my Painter images. This image follows the top blog image’s workflow very closely and used the same Painter brushes. The results in Painter are never what I really like so the painted file goes into Photoshop. The detail is added back in just a little and the Mixer Brush is used to clean up my Painter messes. This time Topaz ReStyle was used to get a little better color palette using the Peach Prairie preset. That was about all that was done. This time I did not paint all the way to the edge in Painter so I have a naturally occurring frame.
What I learned from this image: Painter does have better color and brushes – hands down! It has a large learning curve, but once again, find a couple brushes that work for you and stick to those until you get the hang of what you are doing. That is what I am trying to concentrate on. It is so tempting to try and learn everything about every type of media and brush, but you really need to find one that suits you to start using. I find I am leaning towards the oils and pastels, and will learn watercolor when I am more accustomed to Painter.
Photoshop and Alien Skin Snap Art 4
Since this image of some silk flowers had a lot of soft background color in it (actually emphasized nicely in Lightroom first by using Seim’s Power 4 Workflow Sunday Cross preset and Dave Delnea’s LR Develop Backlight Vertical Right preset), the Snap Art 4 plug-in was used to add paint in the area quickly. The Oil Paint Abstract preset was modified by setting Photorealism slider set back to 21 so it does not look too much like a photo and the Colors Saturation set to 46 to add more color to the image. On New Layers above the plug-in layer, an Oil Pastel Mixer brush was used to paint over the flowers and to add some some more random colorful strokes to the image. More details were painted back into the image using the original image as a guide. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add some contrast back into the image and John Derry’s Varnish Satin Light layer style was added to the top layer to give a more painterly finish.
What I learned from this image: You do not have to have everything perfect – it sometimes looks better to have the color but not the lines to give a strong feeling to an image. It was a little scary putting bright blues and purples on the flowers, but it gives a more artsy feel to the image than what the plug-in did – and it lets you put your own twist on the picture. Now the viewer can use their imagination to see what was really going on with the image. Needless to say, I am still working on this concept.
Painter and Topaz ReStyle
This final image started the same as the one above, but this time the image was painted completely in Corel Painter. First the source image was changed and set Adjust Color to Hue Shift -2, Sat 84, and Value 62. Melissa Gallo’s same brushes from Reason #2 Cloning Feature video were used – her Medium Bristle Rough brush, Coarse Sergeant Brush Jitter and Luscious Oil, used mainly as clone brushes. There is nothing wrong with using cloning brushes in you digital art, especially if you are actually doing the brushstrokes – you really are just sampling color and positioning objects from the photo. The Painter image was brought back into Photoshop where a little clean up was done on a separate layer with the Chalk brush. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to adjust contrast. Then Topaz ReStyle’s Snow Cover preset was applied which added a little structure to just the flowers in the Basic layer mask for the plug-in. The image had a much softer lighter feel to it now. I am always amazed how different the images can turn out!
What I learned from this image: It is okay to clone – just do your own strokes. And add some of your own color into the image. It does not have to look just like the original photo – in fact it is probably more interesting if it does not. Many famous artists added different elements than what they were actually seeing while painting.
That said, I do believe that both programs will probably be in my workflow for digital painting since in Photoshop I do know what to do if I really mess things up! I still have problems getting brushes to paint on separate layers in Painter, which to me seems so necessary with my Photoshop background. There are ways around it, but you do have to spend a lot of time researching this. I plan on discussing this topic later in another blog. I hope you enjoyed some of the experiences I am having with my painting venture this year. Hope you are having as much fun learning about it as I am!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Some Pros and Cons of Corel Painter (And Why I Still Love Photoshop)
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