This week I thought I would give a few examples of how to use the Auto-Align command in Photoshop – it is really handy once you know how to use it. I have given you a couple standard examples, and also an example on how to go the other direction and use it to add people. Check out a great video on YouTube presented by B&H Photo called Scott Kelby’s Photoshop for Travel Photographers – lots of good tips here including this one. He explains how to do this very clearly.
There actually were two people walking in front of the hubcap exhibit (from the 39th Annual Turkey Run at the Daytona International Speedway), but since I had two slightly different shots, I was able to auto-align the layers in Photoshop and paint them out. If you are on a trip or at a busy place, just keep snapping photos a few seconds apart – eventually you will be able to get a totally clean image by stacking and aligning them in Photoshop. The tych below shows the two original images I stacked to get this image. Just highlight the two images you want to stack in Photoshop. In Lightroom, right click and select Edit In -> Open as Layers in Photoshop. If using Bridge, go to the Menu bar and select Tools -> Photoshop -> Load Files into Photoshop Layers. Once in Photoshop, highlight both layers and go to Edit -> Auto-Align Layers and leave Auto checked and click OK. Now images are lined up perfectly, although a crop will probably be necessary if you did stand perfectly still or did not shoot using a tripod. A layer mask is added to the top layer and a soft black brush was used at 100% opacity to paint out what I did not want seen. Pretty simple and pretty cool! This is a great way to get rid of tourists when taking a photo of a famous place – just take several pictures over several seconds (or it could take minutes) and let people move in and out of the frame. Eventually you will be able to create a very clean image with no people! Oh yes – you should not be shooting in a programmable mode as the focus may change between shots. I shoot in Aperture mode most of the time.
…..Had some fun with this image – reversed the process from above. This time, instead of removing people, I decided to add this young lady in using six images I had taken – two sets for HDR taken at Ormond Beach, Florida, right after Hurricane Sandy had passed by. Basically all that was done was to first, in Lightroom (or ACR), made sure all the exposures were set to 0. That means if the image was shot at -1 for an HDR image, the Exposure slider was set to 0 for that image only, so that it matched the middle exposed image. Then all six images were opened as stacked layers in Photoshop. First I had to decide which image was the overall best for the beach surf since not only was the girl moving, so was the water – it was then placed as the bottom layer. After that, it was pretty easy going. A black layer mask was added to each of the other five layers and just the girl was closely painted back in.
Here is a final pix of my local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store that had a few people wandering around in the background. I took this with my cheap point-and-shoot Kodak (with just an auto-focus so I was lucky it was the same for each shot) and still got good results by taking two images of the same area a couple minutes apart. I was able to just stack two layers in Photoshop and paint out the intruders!
This is a really nice technique to have in your Photoshop bag-of-tricks as it can get you that image you really want when on a trip or at the beach or crowded place. I am starting to use it a lot more now that I know about it. Hope you get a chance to try this out when you are in a busy place and want a nice clean image……Digital Lady Syd
Post-Processing Details of Images:
Image 1: I got this really cool chrome look by applying Topaz (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) Adjust 5’s Liquid Chrome preset, then applied another preset of mine I call Some Detail (changed Mild Detail’s preset slider: Details section – Strength to 1.41, Detail Boost to 1.36, Radius to 10.20; and Color section – Color Saturation to 1.24 and Saturation Boost to .79). The layer was set to Hard Light blend mode. Now this is the tricky part – on this layer a Layer Style (double click on thumbnail to open) was added and the Blend If: Gray This Layer tabs set to: black tab – split (hold ALT and they drag apart) to 42 and 92. This keeps the shiny appearance on the hub caps. Not sure why I tried this technique, but it worked! Next a composite layer was added (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was added on top and a Bevel and Emboss Layer style added to it – a Texture was added here called Laid Vertical which is really a pattern added to the whole layer to get that canvas feel. Need to uncheck Use Global Light, change your Highlight Mode opacity (19% in this case) and Shadow Mode opacity (30% in this case) to get this to work right. Also in the Texture area, need to play around with the Scale and Depth – I used 100% at +167. These settings will vary for each image you and with the different textures you use. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for some needed contrast. Next Kim Klassen Cafe‘s free textures Revolution set to Linear Burn at 59% opacity and then her Papertrio-stampedright2 texture set to Vivid Light blend mode and 50% opacity with Fill set to 62% (not sure why I did this). The last step involved adding a white PNG frame to the whole image and adding the same Bevel and Emboss layer style (ALT+drag Fx layer icon to layer you want to add it to). I really did like the way the image turned out – much more interesting than the originals.
Image 2: Created a tych using the information provided in my blog Using a Tych Panel to Show Off Your Images.
Image 3: I actually duplicated a couple of the cutout layer mask layers, applied the layer masks by right clicking on them and applying, and moved them. Next they were warped using the Free Transform tool to make them look a little different from the others. That way I have 8 girls instead of 6. Topaz Adjust 5 French Countryside preset (my favorite) with a Detail Strength increased to 1.16 was added. French Kiss Tableaux Texture Collection Sponged Overlay is added as a border and set to a cream color sampled from the image.
Image 4: This image was post-processed using two applications of Topaz Simplify 4 – the first application I created using these settings if you are interested (Simplify Section: Simplify Size 0.29, Feature Boost 2, Details Strength 0.73, Details Boost .61, Details Size 0.23, Remove Small 0.00, and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust Section: Brightness 0.00, Contrast 1.00, Saturation 1.22, ration Boost 1.24, Dynamics 0.43, Structure 0.47, and Structure Boost 0.69; Tone: Color 1 Region Black Color – 0.00, Color 2 Region R54/G27/B9 – 100.0, Color 3 Region R170/G135/B136 – 180.0, Color 4 Region White Color – 255.0, and Tone Strength 0.57; and Overall Transparency 0.41). The layer was duplicated and the Sketch – Pastel II preset was applied with the Overall Transparency set to 0.34. A New Layer was created above and Fay Sirkis‘s Signature Watercolor Smooth Blender Watercolor Mixer Brush was used to add some detail back into the white flowers which were blown out. A little border was added last.
This week I decided to give a few examples of how I am getting the beautiful painterly look on images. This is the part of Photoshop I love the most – the creative part. And this is where I can take advantage of some wonderful plug-ins and textures that are now available.
I did not start out creating this fantasy painterly looking image, but I like it more the more I look at it. This image used just a basic cloud texture and Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify 4 to get this dreamy effect. The image uses 5-shots taken along the road to Flagler Beach, Florida. I have always loved this house – it just looks like a Florida beach house to me. The HDR tone-mapped image was created using Photomatix Merge to 32-bit HDR in Lightroom and the resulting Tiff file was then processed. Once opened in Photoshop, Topaz Detail 3 was selected where the Lighten preset was first applied, and then the Overall Medium Detail II preset with the sky painted out to keep it smooth looking. Shadowhouse Creations beautiful free Puff Clouds texture was added in Normal blend mode at 100% opacity. I added a layer mask and painted out the clouds and started getting this really dreamy look by only removing the clouds from the house. Next Painted Textures 2 for Friday Seafoam texture was added and set to Overlay blend mode at 50% opacity. The last step involved creating a Composite layer of all the layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and applying Topaz Simplify 4 Painting V preset to it. On a New Layer above, a Mixer Brush was used to blend in the rough edges of the clouds and give an overall painterly look. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the Blue Channel Curve was moved to get the color of blue in the image. That was it! Not real hard but definitely a very abstract artsy look. This was a lot of fun to create!
Tips for Getting the Painterly Look:
- If you like to get a quick painterly feel, Topaz Simplify 4 cannot be beat! The nice thing is that once you apply the filter, even though it may look somewhat canned, you can always use Photoshop’s Mixer Brushes, layer masks, and various textures to make the image your own look – that is exactly what I did on the image above. Topaz Adjust also has several presets that can also give a very nice base painting look. See my blog Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Simplify 4 for more information on this blog.
- I cannot say enough about using the right texture. Most of the sites I listed have either free or fairly inexpensive small sets to try out to see if you like what they do. Try different textures, and when you find a few you really like, put them together in a special file so you can get to them quickly when needed. (Click on Categories Textures for several links on this topic.) If you like what the color is doing to an image at a particular blend mode, leave it in place. With a layer mask you can paint in localized areas of texture.
- Photoshop’s Mixer Brushes just cannot be beat for getting some really nice artistic results. They are great for hiding that very contrasty background, or for smoothing out edges, or blending colors that have too sharp a transition. The pink flowers below have the whole background smoothed to get rid of a very contrasty green garden behind them. On a separate layer, a larger sized Mixer Blending Brush was used to fill in the dark contrasty areas, then a smaller size was used to smooth edges. You can always erase areas where you make a mistake since the Mixer Brush strokes are on a separate layer. A couple things to remember when using the Mixer Brushes is that (1) in the Options Bar be sure you are set to Sample All Layers and turn off the layer eyeball if you do not want to pick up color from some of the layers; (2) the Blender Brush is probably the type to be used the most and should be set to a higher Wet field in the Options Bar to work easily – at least 20% and up to 100% give really nice results; and (3) the larger the brush, the longer it takes to lay down a stroke so keep it under 75 pixels if you can. Also take History Snapshots every now and then (or add a Padlock to your base image so you cannot paint on it) so if you get on the wrong layer, which is easy to do, you can go back to a previous step without losing all your previous painting. If you want to add color with a Mixer Brush, just click on the “Load the Brush After Each Stroke” icon (5th one over) in Options Bar. Make corrections with layer masks and apply them (right click and choose Apply Mask) as you go along. Create clone and paint on layers above and merge down (CTRL_E) – then use a Mixer Brush to blend. See my blog Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes for lots more info on how to use them.
- There are a couple other ways to get a really nice painterly effect. The brilliant Russell Brown has developed two scripts panels to use inside Photoshop that guides you along as you paint. The oldest is called the Adobe Painting Assistant which has different download links for CS6 and CS5 versions – just keep scrolling. The newest panel is the Adobe Watercolor Assistant Panel that can only be used with CS6. These are all free downloads at this link. The Watercolor Painting Assistant takes some practice to get a really nice result, but it will give a beautiful result. See my blog Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! and Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose for more information on the older and more user-friendly Painting Assistant Panel.
- The last effect that has proven to be a real hit the last couple of years is the new Oil Paint filter in Photoshop CS6, although it can be added to CS5 by using the Pixel Bender Panel. See my blog Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter for more information on how to use this filter. It is a lot of fun and easy to do!
To create this painterly effect, the pink Belarusian flowers were brought into Photoshop and cleaned up. A New Layer was created and Fay’s Signature Watercolor Smooth Blender Brush was used to smooth out the whole contrasty background. I have looked at lots of painting tutorials and Fay Sirkis tutorials make the most sense to me. If you are a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals), and you should be if you love Photoshop – best value and site for Photoshop nuts, Fay has several great webinars on line there and you can download all her brushes. Here is a link to a great article on her unique technique where she shows how she made one of her Monet Blender brushes – if you want to give it a try – Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5. Next Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper magicfilm3 texture, which is a black scratched up texture, set to Linear Dodge blend mode at 56% opacity was added – it gives just a touch of texture without losing all the strokes from the Mixer Brushes. The Sharpen Tool was applied to the center of the two main flowers to draw the eye and a Darken Layer was added and set to 56% to emphasize edges. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog for more info on this.)
The painterly effect in the Flagler Fishing Pier image was created using a solarized preset and some soft painting with the Mixer Brush. Just had to get out and do a little shooting even though it was major chilly and windy at the beach. The original image was created from 5 images put together using Photomatix 32-bit Merge to HDR for Lightroom. Once in Photoshop I added two New Layers and added my Cloud Brushes SJ Clouds 1 brush (layer set to 60% opacity) and SJ Clouds 11 brush (layer set to 35% opacity) at 5000 pixels. A New Layer was added on top and filled with black, set to Soft Light, and the opacity set to 23% to increase the overall contrast of the image. (Check out Mark S. Johnson’s Photography Site Photoshop Workbench 374: Creating Dramatic Lighting with Blend Modes on how to do this.) A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and Auto button pressed to get a nice contrasty image. Next Topaz (for website see sidebar) Adjust 5’s Solarized Dreams III preset was applied with Detail Strength set to 0.82 and Detail Boost set to 0. A New Layer was created and Fay Signature Watercolor Smooth Blend Mixer Brush was used to smooth out details in the foreground sand. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used and the Blues Cyan was set to +17 and Yellow to +24 – the layer mask was converted to black (CTLR+I inside the mask to invert) and the sky was painted back with a soft white brush. Another Selective Color Adjustment Layer as added to make the sand look the right color in the foreground – Yellows Cyan was set to +100, Magenta -14, and Yellow +1, and Greens Magenta +19. Next French Kiss Artiste Fauve Rainbow texture was set to Hard Light blend mode at 28% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (CTRL+click between the layers) and Saturation was set to -100 to remove the color from the texture but leave the canvas look. This is one of my favorite textures to give a real painted appearance to my images. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the center tab set to .85 to add just a little more contrast to the midtones. I really was surprised how painted this image turned out.
This image uses Topaz Simplify 4 again and textures to get the painterly look. I decided to show this image as it is a favorite technique of mine to use the power of good textures to give that painterly effect. The basic image was very nice with to begin with and probably would have been fine with just the Lightroom tweaks, but I thought it would make a beautiful painterly piece. Topaz DeNoise was run on this image since it had a 2000 ISO setting. On a duplicate layer Topaz Simplify 4 was applied using the Watercolor II preset – in the Localized Adjustments section, the pink and white flowers were lightly painted back to bring back some detail but leaving the background with a very soft look. Once back in Photoshop the detail was still not strong enough so the DeNoise layer was duplicated and placed on top of the Simplify layer. A black layer mask was added and the flowers were softly painted back using a white low opacity brush to add a bit more localized detail to the image. Two beautiful textures from Melissa Gallo at Painted Textures were added on top: 2 for Friday Set 2 Creamsicle at Hard Light blend mode at 74% opacity, and Cyber Monday Set 1 Winter Wheat set to Linear Light blend mode at 78% opacity. On the top texture a Layer Style was opened and on the Blending Options page, the B channel was turned off. One of my new favorite textures is by French Kiss – Studio 3 White Wash – it was added using the Overlay blend mode at 65%. All of these textures are really great for getting the painterly effect. Once all these textures are added, you really have to try different blend combinations and opacities. It is not at all unusual to have to add a layer mask and paint out areas that are not working right. In this image I added a layer mask to the white wash texture and painted out just a little bit around the edges of the flowers to get them to stand out a little. In fact I had actually added a different top texture and decided I did not like it and started looking for a different texture when I came up with the white wash texture. I had to back and add a Mixer Brush layer to get rid of some distractions in the original image once the textures had been added and it looked bad. If you do not like the way the painterly effect is flowing, it probably is not quite right and you need to walk away and come back again later – it really is a work of art you are working on.
If you just want a nice painterly brush texture on top of the whole image, check out my Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture for a short workflow – this gives a nice finishing look to an image if there is not enough of a painterly effect already.
I hope you got some new ideas for creating that artsy look. Check out some of my related blogs for more examples and resource links that might help you along. This was a lot of fun to put together this week and I hope you enjoyed it!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 6: Try Something New!
Photo Art Compositing For Fun
Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow
Using Topaz Simplify for That Artistic Feel!
Using a Couple of My Textures
Simplifier and Simplify Filters
Topaz Adjust Using Painting Venice Preset – Beautiful Effect!
Topaz Simplify and Lens Effects Saves an Image!