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Posts tagged “Free Layer Style

How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds

This is a follow-up from last week’s How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture blog and more Photo Art examples. Below are listed several ways to create  interesting backgrounds using brushes and other Photoshop tools. The above is an example of what can be done using very traditional textures to make your image look a little different. Some clean up and a Curves Adjustment Layer were added to emphasize the sketch lines of the flowers more. Next Lost and Taken’s Remixed Chalk Pastel 03 texture was added and set to Pin Light at 100% opacity. To get the grungy look, a New Layer was created using the Amazing Texture Brush 2 by Nakatoni (apparently these are no long available but any grunge brush you like will work to add some splotchy purple color) – the layer was set to 52% opacity. A little color clean up was done on another New Layer. Next one of my favorite canned textures by Gavin Hoey’s grunge border 2 was added and set to Overlay blend mode. To get the flowers to appear, a white layer mask was added and the flowers were painted back in using black in the mask. This texture was set to Overlay blend mode. Next a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and a black 3 pixel stroke layer style was added as a small border line. Next my Cat Painting canvas texture was added using Soft Light at 100% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer, Levels Adjustment Layer, and Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (using a bright yellow to green gradient and layer set to Saturation blend mode at 46% opacity). Two more layers were created using different grunge brushes set to 20% opacity in purples and blues were the last steps. The reason I went over all this is to show what a few layers on top of rather traditional textures can give a very different look and be very targeted to get an interesting final result. Below is the Layer Panel workflow as basically listed above.

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This background was created in an interesting way. A New Document was created using the Photoshop Paint Brush Maple Leaves set to 369 pixels with pink and yellow set as foreground and background colors – the whole layer was covered with leaves. Next the Smudge Tool was selected and I dabbed and smoothed the colors together to give this nice blended look using Fay Sirkis’s Watercolor Liquid Mask I Photoshop Brush with the Smudge Brush Tool. If you do not have access to her wonderful brushes, try Alex Dukai Artist Set 01 using the Impressionist brushes which give a very similar result. (Note: the Smudge Brush Tool takes a lot of Ram to run so use a small sized brush like 150 pixels max to do do this.) Once this is created, save the background down as a JPG so it can be used over as an image texture. I used this background and added my sketched layer from the first image. A New Layer using Obsidian Dawn’s Random Swirls 2 Glitter Brush in light pink was added to add texture to the flowers. Nagel rough pastel brushes 3 and 4 were used in the different colors to fill in blanks spots and add some color to the petals – these are really nice smoothing brushes. My Double Edge Frame layer style was added as a last step. See my blog Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames. Here is just a different way you can create a unique texture for you images. You can download my Smudge Texture – see below how to change the effect and colors in this same texture.
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This original image was first taken into Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and three filters stacked: Midnight using Neutral color set, Reflector Efex using Method Gold. and Bi-Color Filters using Color Set Violet/Pink 3. The background came out as black so a layer was placed above and olive green grunge was added on the layer using another one of Fay Sirkis’ textures pastel brush (see last week’s blog for more on Fay). Again a good grunge brush would be fine. A second layer was added and a light pink grunge was painted – the layer was set to 19% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to darken the whole image down a bit. Next, the Smudge Texture created in the image above was placed in the image on top and set to Color blend mode at 80% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture (ALT+Click between the layers) to adjust the hue (+14) and saturation (-71) of the texture itself – the adjustment layer was set to 49% opacity. Finally a composite layer was put on top and my Double Edge Frame layer style was added to finish up the image. I believe all these steps created once again a very unique background for these flowers.
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This image used a pattern applied with the Pattern Stamp Tool. This tool can create some really interesting backgrounds. The original image was loaded. Next a New Layer was added on top and the Pattern Stamp Tool (sits with the Clone Stamp Tool) was selected. Now to make this interesting you have to load some interesting patterns. This is one from Princess of Shadow Victorian Dreams Texture 6 but any pattern that has colors you like can be used. I wanted some blues and reds so that is why this particular pattern was chosen. Note you can use any of your textures and turn them into patterns by opening texture, going to Edit -> Define Pattern and it will be in your group of selected patterns. To make this work you need to go to the Options Bar and in the little box where the pattern is showing, click on the little down arrow and load your pattern. A layer mask was added to remove the color from the flowers. The Pattern Stamp layer was set to Color Burn blend mode at 77% opacity. This layer was duplicated which added in the blue and red tones in the texture once the layer was set to Hard Light at 64% opacity. The flowers were painted over using Mixer Brush blenders. Once again I have to thank Fay Sirkis for her great Signature Schlepp n Smear Blender brush and one by Dave Cross – his close up mixer brush. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added where the RGB, Red and Blue curves were adjusted. Finally I a used my Double Edge Frame layer style, this time adding a Layer Stroke effect and setting the size to 18 and Fill Type to Pattern. I selected the same pattern and set the scale to make it look right.
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I thought I would finish up with a couple real quick ways to add an interesting background. Kelby TV’s Ask Dave’s blog has a short video on How Did You Get That Cool Background? that was used to create the background above. This is a really easy technique. Basically Dave Cross (one of the NAPP Photoshop Guys and Hall of Famer at Photoshop World) used the Single Row or Column Marquee tool and apply a couple filters – I did this in a separate PSD file so I could use the texture over again. This time the flowers were cropped and set to Dissolve blend mode. An image that had yellows and reds was selected to create the background and a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer added for the purple/blue tones. A snow texture that Florabella Collections had given away at Christmas was placed under the flowers but above the adjustment layer – any snow texture is fine (it would be easy to create by painting with a spatter brush on a black background on a layer) and set the layer to Color Dodge at 35% opacity. A New Layer was created using Frostbo’s Snow Drops brush with purple tones – this is my favorite snow brush. My Thin Double Edge Frame was used as a last step sampling color from image.
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Hope you are not getting tired of my flowers but they were easy to use as an example. This last image first used a Randomized Gradient – it was originally in bright reds and oranges.

See my Tidbits Blog I Didn’t Know That! Randomizing Gradients which uses four steps to create. This gradient had Noise set to just 50%. The randomize button was pushed several times until I got a gradient I liked. In this case I used a Radial Gradient which was pulled out from one corner of the image. A Curves and a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer were added to change the colors to browns and pinks. The flowers were placed above the gradient layer. (See left  image.) A New Layer was added under the flowers but above the adjustment layers and a Mixer Brush was used to smear the color behind the flowers to get this effect. (I personally like John Derry’s Mixer Brushes – this used his Flat Fan High Bristle Count brush.) I was really surprised how this turned out. Try out different mixer brush settings to see which one does not pick up the flower colors but just those underneath. Now just a little clean up and frame. The Mixer Brushes can create some really interesting backgrounds.

I hope you have learned a few new ways to create some interesting background textures for your images, especially flowers. In the meantime, try some of these techniques and see if you get some good results!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures
Adding a Texture for Flair!
Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes
Cold Dolphin Fountain in Florida


How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture

Everyone it seems is texture crazy right now! I have to admit that I love to use textures in my photo art but some of what I am seeing does not seem that terribly creative to me. Once you buy a texture action, and don’t get me wrong – there are some beautiful textures and actions to make your photos look great – the results may start to look a little canned. That is what I was feeling when I created the above image from a shot of beautiful white flowers from Hawaii. I have to admit I tried a few boilerplate textures from some of my favorite texture people, but it just did not do anything for me. Then I decided to take things in my own hands and try making some interesting textures that would work for me.
As I have said before, I am not a trained artist, but I do like to play around with brushes. Here is the original image before adding my textures. The first thing I did was to create a sketch in Topaz Simplify (for website link, see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) using colored edges. (I still have not found anything that works better to get a really good sketch effect.) In fact I got the idea from an image I posted in my My Version of Photoshop Tennis! blog where I used the Simplify plug-in to get a nice line drawing of the outdoor cafe image. The settings are very similar but instead of using mono color edges, color edges were used (see settings for Image 6 in blog). Back in Photoshop, Color Range was used to delete all the green background out of the image so only the sketched flowers remained. I duplicated this layer and put it to Multiply blend mode to make the lines a little darker and even added a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring out more  detail in the petals. A New Layer was placed between the original green image layer and the sketch and filled with a light yellow.  Above the yellow layer, several New Layers were added where I just painted with a chalk or charcoal brushes using 30% opacity in light pinks and blue colors around the petals to start getting a painted background. This does not have to be painted perfectly as they are blended into the image later. Different new layers were created for the different colors – if one color is not looking that great, you can delete it from the image without losing your other colors. (In fact I had created a rather bright orange layer using a charcoal brush that just did not work so it was deleted.) I used some of my very favorite brushes by Fay Sirtis, a Corel Master Painter, but she also does Photoshop brushes. The best way to get hold of them is to join NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) where her videos and brush downloads are available. She has created several of the old masters’ brushes to use in Photoshop, but also has some of her own pastel, chalk and charcoal brushes. Her dry, texture pastel, and chalk add color brushes were applied to add a nice texture to just the flower petals. Check out your Natural, Dry Media and Wet Media Brush sets that came with Photoshop for some other good brush choices. I try to rename the layer with the name of the brush used if it a unique one. Now a composite (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) stamped layer is created to finish up. Below is where we are at.


The image still needed more interest so a I created one to place over the sketched flowers. This was done by starting a New Document and creating several layers of strokes in different soft colors and opacities. The brushes used in this file are BittBox Free Hi-Res Watercolor Photoshop Brushes. A Composite was created at the top of this document like above. I then saved the Pastel Watercolor texture image as both a .PSD and .JPG file. Click on image to see steps more clearly in FlickR (click again in FlickR to bring up an even larger view). To download my texture from Deviant Art, click here. See “Create a Colorful Paint Background in Photoshop” by EntheosWeb.com for a good article on how to do this.

This watercolor JPG texture image was then placed above the Composite layer of the flower file. I did not like the way it lined up so a Free Transform (CTRL+T) was done and it was flipped vertically and horizontally to get the look I liked. A layer mask was added to clear some of the paint from the petals where it looked overdone. The layer was set to  Lighten blend mode at 57%. Note my layer is called Adobe Paper Texture Pastel Watercolor because it was added using Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel (see link below) just like any other texture – it will rename your layer for you which is very helpful when stacking texture effects. What I did next was to add several layers of cloning and painting to clean up or paint some additional color texture and paint on the individual petals to give emphasis in certain areas and less in others. As you can see, there is a little blue painted in the flowers on one layer – this is painted at a very low brush intensity, between 15 and 30%, and the layer opacities were adjusted afterwards. A really light vignette was created and set to 30% opacity and Overlay blend mode to direct the eye just a little. Finally my Double Edge Layer Style (can be downloaded here) was added sampling the colors from the image for the frame on yet another composite top layer.

This seems like a long process, but you now have another texture and it is unique because you made it. I have used this Pastel Watercolor texture in other images. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it to the texture (ALT+Click on line between the layers) to change the colors in the texture. By adding some textured brush strokes with the Pastel Watercolor texture, a very unique and artistic look can be achieved. Next time I will show a few other ways to get some different background effects. Until then, have fun with your brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 7: Get Textures From Objects Inside Your Home!
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Orchids with Russell Brown’s Paper Textures Panel


Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5!

Here is another Photo Art application from the wonderful Russell Brown. Very rarely would I be posting about something that is different for CS6 from CS5, but on occasion this is happening – especially when it comes to Dr. Brown’s panels. I had previously downloaded Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS5 and got some really nice results. I actually blogged about it in my Tidbits Blog Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose a while ago. He recently came up with a new panel for CS6 that gives different results as it creates specifically an impressionistic oil painting look.  I like both panel version’s results. The Fairfax County Courthouse cannon above was my first attempt at using the CS6 Painting Panel and to be honest, it is a little tricky to master. You definitely need to review the videos that he distributes with the download before starting.  And he does make a major point that once you start, you cannot go back to a previous step. When you open the panel in either program, he gives you the brushes you need to complete your images. Here is the link to the Dr. Brown’s Scripts Page – there are two versions of the Painting Panel, you must scroll down a ways for the CS5 version – and as always with Dr. Brown, these are free downloads. To finish the image above a  clean up layer was created, a Curves Adjustment Layer applied to add some contrast, and my Double Edge Frame Layer Style was applied. Also note that a Wacom tablet really helps with this panel and he recommends using the barrel rotation pen – I use a large Wacom Intuos 3 tablet (I cannot justify upgrading as it works great – if you cannot afford a new tablet, you might want to check out E-bay for one of these older versions), and I bought the pen a couple years ago from Amazon (I am not sure you must have this to get good results – they are quite expensive and do not come with the tablet when purchased).

Below I used the same Lightroom adjusted flower image and opened it up in both Photoshop programs. This first example is from CS6.The above is the final version after adding in some clean up brush strokes on a separate layer using a regular pastel brush and sampling color from nearby areas in image (ALT+click in image), adding Flypaper Textures Apple Blush Taster Texture (comes with Dr. Brown’s Paper Panel Texture download) using Pin Light Blend Mode at 66% opacity, and a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust contrast. Below is what the image looked like after Step 4 of the Painting Assistant Panel.
There are seven steps to the Painting Assistant Panel. The first two go really fast – they involve opening your image, resizing it, and smoothing it using the new Oil Painting Filter in CS6. (You can see the filter texture in the border areas). The next four steps take a considerable amount of time. Step 3 is Create Rough Underpainting which goes fairly fast. Step 4 is the Intermediate Painting which takes the longest time to do as this is where the impressionist strokes are painted over the image. Step 5 is Finish Intermediate Painting where a few details are added back in. Step 6 is Detail Recovery using a provided History Brush which may take a while to do depending on how much smaller detail you want to bring back into your image. Step 7 is Add Finishing Touch which adds the High Pass Filter to sharpen and is quick. Other textures and filters can now be added to the image to finish it up. This whole process can be quite time consuming. Impressionism requires a lot of small strokes to get the look. (See my Tidbits Blog Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 6 – Try Something New! with links to Fay Sirkis who explains how to actually paint a stroke to create an impressionistic effect – check out the article link in the blog.) The wood boat image below is a more complicated image and took way too long to finish in one sitting. Even the cannon image took a very long time to finish so I would stick to images with simpler lines like floral or still life for use with this panel.

Now for the Photoshop CS5 Painting Assistant. The steps only number 6 but the panel works the same way. The first step is where you open the image. Second step Adds a Surface Blur filter to your image, Step 3 creates an Underpainting Layer where you use a supplied Mixer Brush, Step 4 is an Intermediate Layer, Step 5 Detail Recovery, and Finishing Touch that adds the High Pass Filter for sharpening. Only a Curves Adjustment Layer was added for some contrast and OnOne PhotoFrame (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog) acid burn 07 was used to finish up the photo. Personally, I think that the Painting Assistant is CS5 is easier to use than Cs6’s, but you are not trying to create a particular style of painting as in the CS6 version. This image of Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island in Hawaii was created very quickly in Photoshop CS5 – much faster than using the impressionist effect in CS6.  The way I got the texture to look more painterly was to add a light gray texture created from an actual oil painting I own. I use it a lot and if you would like to download it, check out my Cat Painting Canvas Texture download link at Deviant Art. It was set to Overlay blend mode at 57% opacity. The Painting Assistant layer was slightly cleaned up on a separate layer by sampling in the document and using a low opacity Photoshop chalk brush to fill in. If you do not want to spend so much time on a document, the CS5 Painting Assistant seems to be the answer.

A couple quick tips:  Dr. Brown says paint your image as a paint-by-number of old times when in the Intermediate Painting step. I discovered that at this point you can erase any areas you did not paint over in the outside border before going on to Step 5. Once in the Finish Intermediate Step 5, be sure not to overdo the detail – only place it where you want the viewer to focus in the image. It is easy to overdo this step. I used it to smooth out some of the indistinct lines in the image below. Step 6 is actually the History Brush and it is set to 4% opacity. I changed this to 22% as I could not see any changes occurring in my image. Step 7 adds a High Pass Filter set to Radius of 8 – you can always paint out areas that are too sharp in a layer mask if it seems like too much. For the wooden boats at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii, after the Painting Assistant was used, a clean up layer was created to fill in a few areas and a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast. That is all!
As you can see, this is another great way to photo paint an image. Dr. Brown always has fun and interesting ways of doing things. He is in the process of creating a watercolor module for the Painting Assistant and I can hardly wait to try it. Give this panel a try and see if you like the results – some people are creating some incredible art using it. I think I need to work with it some more but it is fun to do!……Digital Lady Syd