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Posts tagged “French Kiss Textures

How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders!

Got a little creative here and thought I would share what motivated me. Recently I purchased this little gem of a book called Digital Art Wonderland by Angi Sullins and Silas Toball. They do some incredible creative work and include several tutorials on how to make textures and create interesting fun images. So I decided to try out what they were showing and just start playing. Blend If sliders were a big part of the effects in their examples. So what am I talking about? These are the very under-used sliders that create the most interesting effects once you start applying them. They have been in Photoshop since the first version, which is hard to believe. Lots of the very creative work you are seeing in today’s digital art uses these sliders. To get to them, the Layer Style for a layer has to be opened. There are a few of ways to find the Layer Styles: 1) From the Menu, go to Layer -> Layer Style -> Blending Options; 2) Click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select Blending Options; or 3) The easiest way is to double-click on the layer (not the thumbnail or layer title but just on the empty part of the line) and Blending Options dialog box automatically opens up. Once opened, towards the bottom are the Blend If sliders. The strips represent the darkest to lightest parts of your image – just like the strip in the Levels Adjustment Layer. If the black tab is pulled to the right, then the dark parts of your image to the left of the tab will be removed – the more the tab is moved right, the more pixels are removed. The same goes for the white tab – pull left and anything white to the right will be removed. The tabs can be split by ALT-clicking on them – this creates a smooth transition between the pixels that can and can’t be seen – the area between the tabs is the fade area. With no split, there will be an abrupt edge change, which sometimes you want. This Layer affects the layer you are working on and those pixels are removed; Underlying Layer removes the pixels from the layers below and how they blend with this layer. The rather rough edges of the corners in the shown texture is the result of using the Blend If sliders. I am never sure what I will get when applying these sliders, but it can prove to be quite interesting. See this screenshot for how the Layer Style looked after adding the White Hawaiian Flowers layer.
My basic background texture is actually layered textures from all sorts of places: 1) VP-Brown Paper 4 on the bottom (this texture came from Advanced Photoshop #84’s CD); 2) Caleb Kimbrough Subtlegrunge 2 was added and in the Layer Style the This Layer black tab was split and set to 121/166 – this gives the beautiful dark edge around the image; 3) a New Layer was created and French Kiss Splatter4-01 and 02 were painted in a dark color and set to 78% opacity; 4) Tim in Ohio’s Mr. Wilson’s Front Porch was set to Luminosity blend mode, 68% layer opacity, and in the Layer Style the Underlying Layer white tab was set to 142 (no split); and 5) Flypaper’s Taster Elysium texture was set to Overlay at 61% opacity. This provided a really nice base texture to use in the top and last images.
Once I created the texture, the rest of the image was pretty easy to do. First a White Hawaiian Flowers object I had created from an earlier post was placed on top. The settings used are in the above screenshot for the Layer Style. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was clipped to the flower layer (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) and the Hue of the flowers was set to -141 to blend in nicely with the texture colors. A Levels Adjustment Layer was also clipped to the flowers and the Midtone tab was set to 0.35. It still looked too plain for me, so Painted Textures Black Friday Set 1-Floral Swirl was added and set to Overlay at 56%. In the Layer Style the Underlying Layer black tab was split and set to 62 and 93. A New Layer was created and some petal outlines were painted in with a small brush set to 12% opacity, and using a sampled color to emphasize some areas that were washed out slightly. The last step was to add a Curve Adjustment Layer to pop the color a little. In the layer mask, the right top corner was slightly painted out so it did not push the eye into the image too strongly.

You can see how great the Blend If sliders work on an image – they can really change the whole effect of an image. Angi and Silas and many of the really great texture creatives use these sliders all the time. If you are interested in getting unique perspectives or interesting textures, it is worth learning how they work and their book gives some wonderful examples and tutorials on how to do this.
…..Here is another image inspired by the Digital Art Wonderland book. Below I have gone to great length to show you how the various combinations of layer styles and Blend If sliders are working together to give the results for each of the items in the above image. You don’t have to understand it all – just get a feel for the steps that can be done to get a very unique look. Also there are some great resources at these links (some are free downloads and some are not) if you need some new ideas. This is basically a two-step process: create a unique texture and then add your own elements to get a charming personal image.

Once again a texture was created before adding elements to the image. The texture was created using these components: Lost and Taken‘s Hand stained paper 11 texture; Isabelle Lafrance Photography Christmas 2011-Lift texture and in the Layer Style Blending Options, the B Channel was unchecked and the Blend Mode was set to Overlay at 100% layer opacity; a New Layer was created and Nakatoni Custom Brushes Amazing Texture 2 (does not appear to be available anymore but any soft grunge brush would do) at 1500 pixels was used to create a beautiful textured effect that combined the soft pink and light yellow foreground and background colors – the layer was completely covered and set to 32% layer opacity; on a New Layer French Kiss Spatter4 Brush 21 was set to 3719 pixels and a greenish color and a few splats were painted on the layer – the layer opacity was then set to 23%; a New Layer was created and in a light pink foreground color, the Straight Grunge Lines by DieheArt was used to add lines across the image – the layer opacity was set to 52%; and a New Layer was created and the foreground color was changed to a light brown tone and also painted across image – the layer opacity was set to 41%.

Now for the various items. On a New Layer the first item added was a big dark green flower brush 1997 by Brush Lover (these used to be posted at BrushLovers.com but they do not appear to be available anymore – but there are many other choices at this site) at 1600 px and set to 72% opacity.  An object added was from Obsidian Dawn’s Fairies Brushes oo12. Since it was black, a Solid Color Fill Layer set to a darkish pink was used for a color. On the brush layer, the Layer Style was opened and a Bevel and Emboss was selected and set to the default and a Depth of 164; and Stroke set to 3 pixels, Position Outside, Opacity 72% and Color set to White. That gave the cutout edge around the brush. A vector from Buburu Resources called Pink and Green Clipart which was a plant, flowers, and butterfly on top, was added – since I only wanted the butterfly, I removed the rest of the vector. The layer was set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 67% opacity. In the Layer Style, lots of things were done: This Layer white tab was set to 213/255; Underlying Layer black tab was set to 79/128; Outer Glow was applied using a reddish color sampled from the Fairy layer and Size set to 8; Pattern Overlay was applied using a Normal Blend Mode, Opacity 100%, 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut – pattern 09 at 87% Scale; and Color Overlay sampling a light tan color from image using Normal Blend Mode and Opacity of 39%. A Text Layer was created using Beyond Wonderland font set to a light pink color. The layer was set to 65% opacity and a Layer Style set to Outer Glow set to Dissolve blend mode, Noise 20%, and Size 98 px; Pattern Overlay set to Normal Blend Mode, 100% opacity, and Photoshop’s Watercolor Pattern Bockingford Rough; and Color Overlay using a orange-tan color set to 71% opacity. Playful Flowers vector by Dryicons.com was added and once again the Layer Style was opened – in Blend If This Layer white tab was set to 139/223, and a Drop Shadow using an Opacity of 64%, Distance of 12 and Size of 5. The Layer was set to Color Dodge at 80% opacity. Kim Klassen‘s Frame It was applied on a New Layer and transformed to fit – a light pink color was used and the layer opacity was set to 50%. The last object was the Dirigible4 by NadinePau stock – a Layer Style was applied using Blend If This Layer black tab at 51/74; Drop Shadow set to Color Blend Mode, 100% opacity, Distance 11 px, and Size 9; and Bevel & Emboss set to a Depth of 100 and Size of 5 px. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added on top to increase the Midtone colors and add some contrast.
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Just another example of what you can get with those Blend If sliders. They can definitely give an image a totally different look. The above is an image of some yellow gerberas in a pot on my porch. This image turned out pretty crazy but once again it was a lot of fun to do – and that is why you do this! The first thing done was to work on the bottom layer that is covered up here. Last week I took some pix of clouds that were all broken up by shooting straight up and a brush was created. That is why you see a little bit of cloud along with some texture that was added on another layer. 2 Lil’ Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Bokeh Grunge Set 5 overlay was placed above all this to soften the image. Then a composite of the image was made (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and taken into Topaz (website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4 – Watercolor II preset was used and the pot and flowers were painted out with a brush set to .62 opacity. With a little clean-up, I ended up with a really pretty flower picture, but nothing special. The layer was duplicated and to get the funny hanging effect, the top layer was created by using Photoshop’s Lens Correction filter with the Remove Distortion at +50 and Scale of 67% as a Smart Object. A layer style was added and these styles were applied: Stroke set to 9 pixels; Outer Glow using a light pink color set to Normal, 75% opacity, Spread of 19% and Size 250 px; and Drop Shadow with an opacity set to 75, Angle 52,  Distance 40 and Size of 4. On a New Layer, one brush stroke of Midnight Touch’s rEgrets I’ve Had a Few Sampled Brush #6 at 500 px. was applied. Then the Blend If This Layer slider’s black tab was split (click ALT+click to split) and set to 6/55 and the Underlying Layer black tab was set to 188. Then the default Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Inner Glow and Outer Glow were added to create an interesting white flying egret. The Blend If sliders make the wing slide under the top left corner paint. These were grouped and turned into another Smart Object. The Layer Mask Hides Effects was checked and then a layer mask was added to the image. Some of the edges caused by the layer styles could then be softly painted out. One of the final steps involved adding Nik Color Efex Pro 4′s Solarization filter set to Method 1, Saturation 50%, and Elapsed Time 50%. That’s what made the back pop – and that is where you can see the white area that was the Blend If sliders letting the layer underneath show through. Really interesting effect. Not sure how I feel about this image, but it was a good example of what you can do with the sliders.
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This image was created using one of the tutorials in the Wonderland book – didn’t think I would like doing it but was a lot of fun creating it. It basically involved taking some old master paintings that you like and combining them into something different. This image contains three paintings I admire with areas masked so they blend together nicely. Then Topaz Clarity’s High Contrast and Color Pop II preset was added to get the colors to work together better. Then Topaz Simplify 4 was a applied to a duplicate layer and Watercolor II was used with the Transparency set to .30 so some of the original poked through. My palm tree object with a Gradient Overlay Layer clipped to it was added to get the color correct in the trees. Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper Touch texture was used as an overlay and set to 50% opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog on how to do this.) Text was ExtraOrnamentalNo2 font. A Levels Adjustment was added increasing the contrast a little and setting Output Levels to 15/255 for a bit of a hazy look. The last step involved adding the texture shown above on top and setting it to Difference blend mode at 100% opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was set to 0/77 and the white tab was set to 80/183. The Underlying Layer black tab was set to 0 and the white tab was set to 178/233.

I hope you get a chance to try out these sliders. Also turn off the Channel R or G or B check box(es) and move the Fill slider around to see how the colors in the image are affected. (This was done on the texture for I Can Fly image above.) And of course keep trying out the different blend modes in this dialog box. It all adds together to give some very unique results. Have fun experimenting!…..Digital Lady Syd


How to Create an Image From Nothing!

This week on CreativeLive I watched a two-day webcast called Photoshop Mastery: Retouching and Collaging with Ben Wilmore – another totally fantastic webinar by the best Photoshop teacher around. Check out CreativeLive’s calendar for their list of upcoming free live webinars. After all this inspiration, I decided to try out a few things I learned. It took a while to create, and lots of mistakes were made, but overall it was just super fun – and to me that is what Photoshop is all about! A new 8X10 document was opened, and then Photoshop’s Grass brush in a pink color got me started. After that, just different items were added to it until I ended up with something I will eventually use on my website! Since several techniques were used, I thought I would go over some of the steps on how to get this graphics look – it was not hard – just time-consuming.

1. Started with an 8 X 12 inch, resolution 300, 16-bit New Document.

2. A New Layer was created on top and the Grass brush was painted on top using the color 8f618e. A Layer Style was opened up (double click on the layer to bring up the Blending Options dialog box) and the Blend If Gray – This Layer’s white tab was set to 191. (Ben gave a good explanation of this – basically by dragging the white tab left, it removes any white areas in the image up to the point you stop. So a 191 setting corresponds to all tones between 191 to 255 on a histogram being eliminated. This technique is used a lot to remove skies and background areas. Split the tab by ALT+clicking on it to make a smoother transition if needed. This step did not split the tab.) This removed a lot of the white in the grass blades that were painted. Also an Outer Glow in a light pink and a Drop Shadow were added. The layer was set to Multiply Blend Mode at 100% opacity.

3. To make the grass look like it was on a cloud my free SJ Cloud 4 in a light grayish color (#bfbfbf) was clicked once on a New Layer and placed under the grass layer. It was stretched across the bottom using the bracket key to make the brush large although the Free Transform key (CTRL+T) could have been used to do this. (Tip – it does not make a difference whether you make the brush larger first or Free Transform holding the SHIFT keep to in proportion – get the same result.)

4. I selected 2 Lil’ Owls Studio French Script Brush 4 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) in a dark pink/purple. A Layer Style (double click on layer to open) was added using a Bevel and Emboss with Contour on, an Inner Shadow, and a Gradient Overlay going from gray to purple. The image below is where I was at – notice I had some birds that I removed later.5. This step would have been much easier if I had decided what I wanted to do with the French sign brush at the start – but I did not plan in advance so it took me a long time to get this right. Just realize that it would have been much easier to add the wood to the background sign (this used Caleb Kimbrough’s free Old Wood 3 texture), add one of my Overlays created in my How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images blog and was in png format, and then displace the text on the wood using the steps in my Displacing an Overlay blog in a different file and add it back into this file. Otherwise this gets really messy, which is what I realized after-the-fact. I ended up doing all this as Smart Objects, and used three sub-groups within a top group to nest all the sign effects. The webcast did a very nice job of explaining how to use Smart Objects. At least I got some practice doing this. At this point, a layer mask was created on the top group and the sign post painted into the grass so it looks like it is coming out of it.

6. Since adding just brush strokes onto different layers gives transparent areas, a texture can be added behind them with no selection required. After trying at least 10 or 11 different textures, French Kiss Atelier Valley texture was chosen – I liked the subtle colors and the way it made the clouds look like soft grassy areas. It was placed just above the Background Layer set to Normal at 100% opacity.

7. Since there was no ground edge, a New Layer was created under the Grass brush layer and a Mixer Brush was used to add some straight lines to define the shoreline of the image. Used Fay Sirkis’s Palette Knife Classic FX Highlights #1 Brush, (one of the great brushes that can be downloaded for use with her Four Seasons painting online training classes on NAPP – she teaches you how to use this brush in her great Four Seasons painting series Fall training class on NAPP).

8. Another New Layer was created above the Clouds brush layer and using Fay Sirkis’s Cloud Moist Sky Blender 05 brush (included with the brushes in Step 7 – learn to use cloud brushes in her Four Seasons Spring training class), the clouds in the background were embellished a little to make them look a whiter and puffier. It was set to 54% layer opacity.

9. I wanted to add some kind of building structure to my image. I went up on the free stock photo site Stock.xchng and found an image called abandoned stone house – perfect for what was now getting that spooky feel. The house image was brought into the image above the sign groups layers and then Free Transformed (CTRL+T) to fit. A layer mask was added to paint out the road and green trees around the house. It was way too bright so a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to the image and the Yellows and Greens sliders were adjusted to match the feel of the image. I put these layers into a Group called Old House Image.

10. The last major thing done was to add a reflection to the foreground grass by using Flaming Pear’s Flood plug-in – an oldie but a goodie. I do not know of any other filter that does this as well. A composite was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and the filter run. Just played around with the various sliders until I got just a slight wave effect and that was a a little darker than the image. See my The Flood Look blog for more details on this plug-in. (Here are the settings I used for this image to give you a feel for the amount of detail this plug-in contains: Horizon  83, Offset 0, Perspective 42,  Altitude 50, Waviness  9, Color Swatch Black, Complexity  20, Brilliance  44, Blur  9, Size  0, Height  33, Undulation  40, and Glue Normal.) Lots of fun to use! A black Layer Mask was added to the layer and just the reflection was painted back where I wanted it.

11. The French Kiss Atelier Valley texture was duplicated and placed at the top of the stack to add the canvas feel to the whole image. First a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture and set to Saturation -100 and Lightness +46. Then the texture was set to a Multiply blend mode at 12% layer opacity. Now the whole image has the texture but no color from the texture. See my Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture blog for more on this.

These were the basic steps. There was some clean up and a Curves Adjustment Layer added, but overall this was it. Sort of surprised how it finished up – the beautiful texture really added the overall effect to the image. Try just fooling around with some of the interesting brushes that come with just Photoshop (or check out some of my other blogs for some interesting brushes that can be downloaded free from the Internet) and some of the skills you know – you might be surprised what you come up with. Have fun creating!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Create a Winter Scene with Photoshop Brushes and Textures
Just Plain Fun Brush Effects!
Spooky Halloween Fun!
Hyacinths Deep in Reflection


A Little Kaleidoscope Fun!

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

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

Daffodil image post-processing:

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


Using Auto-Align to De-People Your Pix

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.
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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.


How to Get That Creative Painterly Look

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.)
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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.
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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!


The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!

I loved the way this image turned – the kind of art I like to do! These orchids were sitting backwards in the grocery store and it just struck me how interesting they looked from this angle. So here is the shot I got with my little point and shoot. Since it was not the best quality image, I had to do quite a bit of manipulating to it and that included some major dodging to clean up the lines in the image. I can’t tell you how much I rely on Lightroom to help me clean up these JPGs from this little camera. There is no way I could get them looking this good without it. I did two major things in Lightroom – added David duChemin’s Lightroom 4 preset Honey on Land which turned the really purple and white flowers into rich pink and gold colors. Next I used the Lens Correction panel set to Color and manually defringed this image. It had some pretty bad yellow fringing going on. To fix this, the Remove Chromatic Aberration box was checked, and using the Fringe Selector Tool, the yellow area was clicked as a starting place. The final Amount for the Green Hue was 3 and the Green Hue tabs were set to 0/19. Unfortunately ACR does not have a Fringe Selector Tool but you can manually manipulate the defringe sliders and get very good results. This feature alone is one of the reasons you should upgrade to Lightroom 4 or Photoshop CS6. Now I will get off my soapbox.

Photoshop is where the burning and dodging magic come in to play. Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify 4’s Watercolor II preset was applied. In an added layer mask, most of the flowers were painted back using a low opacity brush to reduce the effect of the filter on these areas. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer were added with some slight changes to the Reds and Yellows to bring back a bit of the purplish color. Next French Kiss Studio (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Botanique2 watercolor texture was added and set to 70% at Normal blend mode. In a layer mask, the flowers were lightly painted back but the background retained the greenish colors. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add back the contrast lost with the texture.

The next step is the Burning and Dodging tip that comes from John Paul Caponigro, one of the best users of Photoshop to create fine art and a total Photoshop guru, in a course he offers called Drawing with Light – 21st Century Dodging and Burning (Kelby Training also has the tutorial if you are a member – this DVD is excellent covering many topics to improve your images). To add the burn effect to an image, a New Layer is created and set to Overlay blend mode. With a black soft-edged brush, paint over any areas or edges that need a little more separation. I like to use a very low opacity brush around 12% or less, but John Paul likes to use 100% and back it off completely.
The reason I love this method is that it is easy to erase a mistake or add a layer mask to reduce the effect. If you make one stroke too dark, just go to Edit ->Fade and reduce its strength. Also the layer opacity can be reduced if the total result is too much – you may only need a 15-20% layer opacity to get the effect. If you have a lot of changes and want to Dodge some areas, create another New Layer set to Overlay and use the same brush set to white. Be careful not to overdo this – it is easy to do. The white paint seems to really stand out. But it is a very easy way to direct the eye to the important parts of the image. Remember the layer is set to an Overlay blend mode which means that anything greater than 50% gray brightens the image, and anything darker than 50% gray darkens it. Therefore, when black is painted over the darker areas of the image, only the dark areas are being affected – the lighter areas stay the same. When dodging with white, only the lighter areas are being affected. One thing to watch out for is that the Overlay blend mode tends to increase saturation, so make sure this is not happening. May need to use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to desaturate slightly. The last step for this image involved adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring in some overall contrast to the image. Textures can tend to flatten out an image.
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This image is of a little tiny hard pod or flower growing on my Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum plant.  A macro shot was taken of the flower with filtered light from the south facing window that gives a really soft background feel. Before doing any darkening on this image, it was processed in Lightroom using just the Basic sliders. Next in Photoshop, Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4’s BuzSim III preset was applied. 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Amour texture (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was then applied twice. First time it was set to Overlay blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Second time it was set to Multiply at 100% opacity and the flower was lightly painted out in a layer mask. Finally the a New Layer was created and set to Overlay. In this case, the top of the pod was getting lost in the yellow of the leaf behind it and needed a little more definition. With a soft black lower opacity brush, the top of the pod was painted back to reveal the edge more clearly.

I have used this technique for several years now and still find it the best for localized dodging and burning. This technique is a totally non-destructive to the image, and I think the results are far superior to the other methods out there. Definitely on the top of my favorite techniques. Give it a try and see if you like the technique!…..Digital Lady Syd


Creating a Realistic Rainbow in Photoshop

Since I am doing a post on rainbows, I thought I would first pass on a little  trivia about them. Did you know that there are usually seven colors in a rainbow, but most people do not see the indigo layer between the lighter blue and purple arcs? The stronger the sunlight and rain, the more intense the rainbow. This is actually a pretty complicated weather effect. The image of my miniature mums was just plain fun to do and is not exactly a very realistic rainbow representation. I started by adding French Kiss Artiste Promenade texture and painting out the mums in a layer mask. Next a rainbow was created following Deke McClelland‘s Creating a Synthetic Rainbow Effect from his Photoshop Masking and Compositing Fundamentals DVDs. (He is coming out with his new Photoshop book shortly that should be great!). The Gradient Tool was selected to create a rainbow. Below are the basic steps for creating a rainbow effect:

1. Add a New Layer. An optional step is to restrain the actual size of the rainbow – select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and in the Options Bar set t0 Style -> Fixed Size and enter Width  the settings I used above were 1000 and Height 337 pixels while Deke used 1840 width by 187 height.

2. If using a selection, keep it  active and set up a gradient using settings as shown in the screenshot or download my gradient below. The Rainbow gradient provided by Photoshop has some issues – mainly rainbows do not contain any orange colors, the reds are too squished, and a cyan color is included which is not in a rainbow. Deke suggested these basic gradient settings to make a more realistic rainbow gradient.

The lower color tab locations could be adjusted to get more or less of a specific color in the rainbow. Save your new Gradient as a preset so it can be used again or click to download my SJ Rainbow Gradient and resulting rainbow PNG files that contain these settings.

3.Using the Gradient Tool with the Options Bar set with the new rainbow gradient and Linear, drag out to create a horizontal line rainbow. If using an active selection from Step 1, drag exactly between the top Rectangular Marquee line and bottom while holding the SHIFT key to get a straight across effect. Be sure you drag top to bottom or your rainbow will be backwards. (I know because I did this.) Deselect (CTRL+D) the selection.

4. Now go to Edit -> Transform -> Warp and in the Options Bar select Warp Arc and Bend 90% to get a large semi-circle rainbow. To switch back to the other Free Transform settings, just click the Warp icon in Options Bar. To make size of rainbow smaller to fit in your image, set bend and click on the little chain icon (Maintain Aspect Ratio icon) in the Options Bar between W: and H: and change 100% to 70% (or whatever size works on your image). If scaling manually, be sure to hold the SHIFT button while dragging on the corners or the perspective of the rainbow will change. To get a more stylized rainbow look or one that fits around an object, the corners  can actually be pulled to adjust the transform lines to make the rainbow line up any way you want by right clicking in the rainbow and selecting Distort or Skew. Then click on the check mark to set the total transformation.

5. Add a layer mask and with a soft low opacity black brush, adjust the rainbow into your image.

6. Set rainbow layer blend mode to Linear Light and change the Fill value to 15%

7. To reduce the edges of the colors in your rainbow, go to Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set a Radius to 8 (or whatever setting you think looks good).

You now have a beautiful rainbow in your image! I actually added a sketch on top of my flower and a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer using the rainbow gradient again and set the layer to 31% opacity to get the rainbow effect on the petals.
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Here is another image that uses the same rainbow created for the first image. The PNG rainbow blurred from my rainbow download was brought into the image. The image was first processed in Lightroom starting with David duChemin’s Iceland Split Greens preset (from his newest book The Print and the Process: Taking Compelling Photographs from Vision to Expression) and using an Adjustment Brush to add sharpening and clarity to the houses. In Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Detail Extractor and Graduated Neutral Density filters were added to enhance the clouds and give them a brighter look on the right side of the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to darken down the area behind the houses to give more of a stormy effect, which is needed to get a realistic looking rainbow. Next the rainbow was placed in the image and Free Transform (CTRL+T) to get the right size and location. The rainbow layer was set to 51% opacity and a layer mask was added – the upper right corner of the rainbow was gently painted out. My SJ Painter Oil Frame was applied and a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers so change only effect the layer below) to the frame – the color was changed to a matching light color in the image. To get the painted edges, a layer mask was added and using a 12% soft brush, the edges were painted out lightly to get more of a painted canvas look. French Kiss Artiste Breeze texture was added on top. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to it and the Saturation set to -100. The texture layer was set to Vivid Light blend mode at 22% opacity. This is an image I probably would not have processed if a texture had not been applied to it and the rainbow really opened up the sky. Now I really like it – it looks like the English countryside that I saw while traveling to Bath.
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Just having fun here. Was not sure where this was going and this is what I ended up with. This is actually made up of three groups – Rainbow, Shamrock Pot and Flower Pot. French Kiss Artiste Flower Garden texture was used as a backdrop. It took a lot of manipulation to get the main components set up correctly. The Rainbow was warped to fit into the pots. The flowers were created from an image of a pin I had taken and turned into a brush. All the clip-art is from the wonderful Obsidian Dawn St. Patricks Day brushes. Various layer styles were applied to the different layers and the Cosmi font is called 36 – you might find it on an old CD of fonts.

There are a few other tutorials out there on how to make a rainbow. One in an older book called Photoshop Photo Effects Cookbook has a fairly easy tutorial to follow – I just did not like the gradient effect and final rainbow quite as much. I hope you download my rainbow and give this a try. This was really a fun thing to try….Digital Lady Syd


Using a Tych Panel to Show Off Your Images

Last week I gave away a template to organize your images for use on a Valentine or for just putting related ideas together. (See Using a Template to Create Your Own Unique Valentine.) This week I found this incredible  little free program that can be loaded into Photoshop CS5 or CS6 as a panel that does a very similar thing. This is totally ingenious and very simple. All you need is to have your images or objects already post-processed and a bit of an idea on how you want to put them together. For the Tych above, the images are all from the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida – I had a great time photographing. Above are a few of the images I have completed the post-processing on and put together to form what I consider a pretty nice grouping of the event. I plan on blogging on how I created some of the effects in the individual images at a later time.

So let’s talk about Tych Panel 2 by Reimund Trost. The best way to learn about it is to view the short video for instructions on how to use it. Basically you can add rows, columns, additional rows after you have created it, background color, borders and/or rounded corners around each image and/or the whole image, and even use it from Adobe Bridge if you want. Totally cool and very fast. It is action based and the order of the images can be set for each row or column you create or add. Really gives a nice quick result for posting to blogs. All I can say is that it was a lot of fun to do. The grouping of flowers below was my first effort and took just a couple minutes – I really liked the results!
There are only a couple of little issues I noticed when using the program.

  • First, you need to make sure your images are all in the same folder for each row or column you are adding as there is no way to add additional images from another folder to form each individual row or column. Unfortunately the panel does not interface with Lightroom where you could use a collection for image selection.
  • The second issue is that the program will adjust the image to fit in an opening – if the aspect ratios of the images you are selecting to create a row or column are different, part of the image will be compressed so they fit uniformly. If you are adding a landscape sized image with a portrait sized image, it apparently makes the portrait sized image the same height as the landscape – it appears much smaller in your image. If you add three different sized images into a row, it takes the largest sized image and adjust the other images to that size by compressing them. So far, none of the image sizes I have added are too changed so they still look pretty nice. The easiest way around this is to make sure your images are the same size before adding them to the Tych.

If you want to exchange an image, I usually turn off all the layers except for the one I want to replace. If you used rounded corners on your images, right click on the black layer mask thumbnail and select Disable Layer Mask (a big red X appears in it). Now File ->Place your new image above the one to be replaced, and Free Transform it so the old and new images are the same size. Double click on the black layer mask to enable it and drag it up to the new image. Then delete the old layer.
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This is another example showing the rounded edges on just the flower images. I added a French Kiss Solstice Zest textured background on this image and a couple curves to create the background effect I wanted.
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The panel below was created using four images, one column on the left and three on the right; then turning off Column 1 Group which contains the three layers on the right side. The background treatment was a bit complicated. If you have the border turned on in the Tych Panel options, I usually drag that top Border layer down to just above the background layer so my background appears complete on the image.  2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set crescent grunge (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was added at 55% opacity above the background layer. Next 2 Lil’ Owls French Brocante Set 10-1 texture with the beautiful Eiffel Tower image was added and set to Linear Burn at 85% opacity. Above that a New Layer was added and French Kiss Spattered4-06 brush at 511 pixels was applied in black over the whole layer – loved the drippy watercolor feel although it just adds a cloudy looking effect once combined with the other textures. 2 Lil’ Owls Enchanted2-4 png overlay was put on the next layer at 45% opacity. Note that the small flower image can be adjusted within the larger background image by just using the Move Tool and dragging – the layer mask will adjust as you move the image. An Inner Shadow and Stroke layer style was added to the flower image to make it stand out more. Another New Layer was placed above the pink flower image and one stroke using Flowers Swirls and Hearts Sampled Brush 8 was added next. Last a slight contrast adjustment was made on a Curves Adjustment Layer. This image really does not have a very organized look to it, but the image guide did really help me to figure out how to lay out this image.
This panel is really fun to use and shows off your images so quickly. Very handy to have when wanting to put a quick collage together for a friend or for a blog post. Just watch the aspect ratios on your images and it will all work fine. If you own Photoshop CS5 or CS6, give this a try. It is extremely easy to use and the results can be quite stunning…..Digital Lady Syd


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Digital Lady Syd!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday this time of year. My large flower blossom image was from one of the many lovely little gardens around the dachas in Belarus in the summer. (For info on how each was processed, see end of blog.)
…..This beautiful Christmas tree was located in a clubhouse dining area. It was actually decorated all in silver and was taken with my cheap Kodak point-and-shoot camera. Just goes to show how far you can take an imperfect image and give it some creative effects for a great result.
…..This was just fooling around with brushes and getting something really fun!
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This image was taken at Linlithgow, Scotland – a beautiful home near the train station. I basically turned it into a night Christmas scene. This is a beautiful little town to visit if you are in the Edinburgh area – it has interesting castle ruins you can explore too!
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I hope you enjoyed my holiday cards – they were much fun to create! Maybe they will inspire you to try some new techniques – all have been discussed at some time in my blogs (just search in both this and my Tidbits Blog)! In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday and I will see ya next year!…..Digital Lady Syd

Processing Details:

Image 1: Lightroom processing occurred first on this beautiful red flower and then it was opened up in Photoshop and the background layer turned off. A light green solid color layer was placed under the image along with French Kiss Watercolor Texture Vivacity set to Normal at 47% opacity. A Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was clipped to the watercolor and the Yellow color Hue was shifted to a light green. The flower layer was turned on and a layer mask added to paint out the background so the watercolor texture shows through. Several French Kiss Splatter Brushes were applied and reddish, pinkish, and brownish Color Fill Adjustment Layers were clipped to some of the brush stroke layers. Also the opacity of these stroke layers was varied. Last, Obsidian Dawn’s Merry Christmas brush was placed on a layer with a layer style added (using Outer Glow, Pattern -created using the Vivacity water color texture, Inner Shadow, and a dark red Stroke) to get the candy cane look, and a text layer added using an Outer Glow layer style.

Image 2: Since this image was just a 14 mg image, but still a jpg, it took me a lot longer to get the final look I wanted. In a nutshell, this image was processed first in Lightroom using the basic adjustments. Next in Photoshop Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Simplify 4 was applied using the Oil Paint Toned III preset as a starting place – to get the soft color the tone section was changed to black, dark green, light green and red and set to a Tone Strength of .89. I basically just played around with the size sliders until I got a result I liked and created a preset since it was so different from their presets. Then I simply did a lot of clean up, added two textures – French Kiss Artiste Aspen (turned it green using a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and merging down) using Lighter Color blend mode at 23% opacity, and 2 Lil Owls Texture 1 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) set to Hard Light at 37% opacity. A Levels Adjustment layer was added, two layers of text, French Kiss Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay with inside lines removed and changed to a light tan color, and a spotlight vignette effect on the center left ornament. These are all techniques I have covered in past blogs here and on my Tidbits Blog so just search the blogs for more information on how to do a certain technique or drop me a line or comment if you have questions.

Image 3: I started with a New Document in Photoshop. My free SJ Holiday Greeting PNG Overlay was applied and a Red Color Fill Adjustment Layer set to a deep red color was clipped to the overlay. Next a New Layer was added and the Erodible Watercolor Blender brush was chosen and pinks and grays were painted around the overlay – the layer was set to 28% opacity. My Snow Overlay (in same download set as the greeting) was applied at 63% and a text layer with my name was added. A Levels Adjustment Layer and Curves Adjustment Layer was added to finish up.

Image 4: Basic processing was done in Lightroom. Lots of clean up and a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add contrast. Painted Textures Christmas was added at Hard Light and 86% opacity – gives a beautiful warm glow to image. Some vignetting, sharpening and selective Hue/Saturation Adjustments changes were made. To get the night look, a Nik Color Efex Pro Midnight filter set to Blue was added.  Santa Brush by Flina was added with a layer style to get nice effect on the brush. Obsidian Dawn’s Light Beam brushes was added to light up the front of the house. My free Snow Overlay was added and set to 10% opacity. Obsidian Dawn’s Merry Christmas brush was added with an Inner Glow layer style and a text layer for my name was added last.


Where to Find Those Cool Free Christmas Card Templates?

It is that time of year and everybody is looking for the cool Christmas Card templates so I am posting early this week. I have found a few sites that might help get you through the “I need to create a Christmas Card quick” panic or to make that special one for family or friends. Update: It is hard to keep links active as this blog was posted a couple years ago, but I have tried to keep it fairly current with a few corrections and additions.

Becky Higgins 2012 Holiday Cards (no longer available but check out steps in next paragraph on how to create it)
Becky Higgins website had 10 basic cards in PNG format and various sizes to add your photos into – please note that these templates are for personal use only. Above is an example using one of her beautiful templates. The image is a 1898 Christmas ad of Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railways ad that appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine from The Old Design Shop site, a great website to find interesting vintage photos for free download. This template could be created fairly simply in Photoshop –  just fill the background layer with red (ALT+BACKSPACE), duplicate the layer and cut out the photo area using the Rectangular Marquee Tool press BACKSPACE. and remove selection (CTRL+D). Add a text layer (here is a link to some nice Christmas Brushes by annie 252). On a New Layer above, use a grunge brush with white (check out Obsidian Dawn’s Glitter II brush set).

Steps to add photo:
1.  Open PNG file up in Photoshop – you will see the checkered opening where your photo will go.
2. From Adobe Bridge drag you image into the PNG file and then drag it underneath the card template.
3. Use Free Transform (CTRL+T) to adjust you image to the opening.
4. In this case a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped above the image to give a greenish tint to the black and white image.
That’s it! Pretty easy and beautiful results! You can always add another text layer and sign your name – I used the Beyond Wonderland font from dafont.com – check it out to find hundreds of really great free fonts.

Check out this short tutorial called How to Create a Beautiful Christmas Card with lots of free holiday references. They provide links to Christmas fonts that can be used for the holiday text also.
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MCP Actions
This card was actually created from a card furnished by the wonderful people from MCP Actions. These are very basic cards where you can substitute various elements to create a very unique card. In this case the birdesign-freebie1 front was used. To see how I did the flower image, see my Tidbits Blog Beautiful Christmas Flowers . After saving and finishing the image, it was brought into the card PSD file and placed above the background. It was adjusted to fit the opening. All the pattern layers were removed, guide layer, and the top text layer. The bottom text layer was changed to a font that I had on my computer – a free download font called SF Foxboro Script. I liked the sentiment for the card so all that was done was to add my name in a little larger font size. By double-clicking on the thumbnail, the layer style dialog was brought up – the Color Overlay style was chosen with a light beige color and a default Drop Shadow added. The turquoise bottom half had to go – so the background was changed to a color that was sampled from the flowers. The bottom half looked boring, so I found The Christmas Tree sheet music from Graphicsfairy. (This is an incredible vintage website.) To get rid of the yellow background and leave the sheet music, a Select -> Color Range was performed – once selected, backspace to remove the background so just the music remains on the layer. It was turned at a an angle, a Color Fill Adjustment Layer was changed to a white color, and Drop Shadow added with no changes. The opacity was set to 26% – adjusted last so it does not compete with the card text. To grunge up the bottom half a little more, French Kiss Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay was added and also turned at an angle, and a Solid Color Adjustment Layer set to a light pink to soften the music color. The last step was to apply a Curves Adjustment Layer on top. I could send this card out and be happy!
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Chasing Dreams PhotographyChasing Dreams Photography is a website I only found recently and she has two wonderful free Christmas Card templates using the chalkboard look that seems to be all the rage in textures right now. These can be downloaded (one of her 12 days of Christmas gifts) along with lots of other goodies at her Fan Page on Facebook, similar to the MCP Actions download above. It was very easy to place my image, and the fonts that are in the card templates are free downloads from dafont.com. The image is one I scanned on my old Epson Perfection scanner and had to do quite a bit of retouching. I actually used Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in on this photo to help enhance it. It printed up very nicely on a matte finish paper.
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Gavin Hoey just provided a very nice Christmas card template on his Gavtrain blog. Also Leslie Nicole at French Kiss Collections has a very wonderful vintage Christmas card available until the end of January 2013. Here is a link that links to several websites offering free holiday templates – check out Free Holiday Card Templates. (Wow- just realized one of my cards from last year is linked here!) Another place that has 4 nice photo templates is from DesktopPCWallpapers.com – check them out at this link. I hope everyone appreciates as much as I do these wonderful sites that are giving away their beautiful cards for free – it providses such quick and easy access to making beautiful cards. If it were not for these kind folks, it would take a lot more time and experimenting – thank you for sharing. Check out my Related Blogs below for more free resources to help add that original look to your cards. I hope these links will help you get a beautiful quick unique card out and take some pressure off so you can Enjoy the Holiday Season!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Free Christmas Card Templates-Part 2
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements


2012 Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List

Last year I did this blog and felt that it would be a good idea to list a few more reasonably priced gift items that you might not know about. I hope you find it useful for that perfect stocking-stuffer or gift for your favorite Photoshop user. These are all items I personally own and recommend for your use.  Also, scroll down to the Totally Cheap Corner for some free great gift ideas! So here we go!

1. TOPAZ ADJUST 5 FILTER – ($50)

I am keeping my number 1 from last year as my number 1 for this year too. This plug-in is the best and this company is the best – once you buy any of their products, all updates are free – who does that in this day and age? It was a hard choice to choose just one to showcase as I use most of their plug-ins regularly. Topaz Adjust is wonderful as it gives that HDR feel to an image even if it is not an HDR and now there are more choices than ever for creating this look. If you are an artistic person, try their newly updated Topaz Simplify 4 – totally fun to use! And the Black and White Effects is really good!  Topaz Adjust (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog) using the Vintage Grunge IV preset was applied below without the vignetting. Otherwise just my usual workflow in both Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6. It was taken recently at the 39th Annual Daytona Turkey Run in the infield of the Daytona International Speedway – it is the largest antique auto show in the U.S.

2. FRENCH KISS COLLECTIONS – ($8 to $60)

Leslie Nicole of French Kiss Collections has some of the most beautiful and unique textures. She offers many free textures to try out and several inexpensive sets you can download. She has some good video tutorials on how to use her textures. Below are some bougainvillaeas that use one of her textures and one of her overlays. (For more information on how it was processed, see my Tidbits Blog Checking Out French Kiss Textures.)

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8474/8114780763_31fe9bd42e.jpg

3. PRESET VIEWER BREEZE PROGRAM – ($20)

Once again I am recommending this little program. I would be lost without the Preset Viewer Program. When you need that special brush to load into Photoshop and cannot remember which set is it in, this program will open them up to view within seconds to help you find what you need. Definitely a real time-saver. It also reads patterns, fonts, jpgs, shapes, styles, and swatches. A great addition for speeding up your Photoshop workflow. I often have it open while working on an image to see which brushes I need to load. Below is a screenshot of how my program looks when open – I have several folders where I store extra brush presets. These are my cloud set brushes that can be downloaded for free at my Deviant Art site.

4. CREATING ART WITH MACRO IN NATURE E-BOOK – ($14.95)

If you like taking Macro images, or even if you don’t know if you do, Mike Moat (one of the best macro photographers around) has an E-Book called Creating Art with Macro in Nature that is terrific! I learned so much from this 184-page pdf book that covers everything you need to know with beautiful images to show you the results. Very enjoyable read. His website Tiny Landscapes also has very helpful information on it. Below is an example of using some of Mike’s tips to create a nice Macro image.

5. THE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS – 1 THROUGH 4 – ($13 and up)

Scott Kelby (need I say anymore?) started creating “quick tip” Digital Photography Books a while back and this year he released his fourth. They are all loaded down with lots of photography and Photoshop tips to make shooting any kind of image painless. He covers every kind of shot and has many recipes sprinkled throughout the books to help with processing. I have totally enjoyed all of them as they are a quick read – you can look up whatever you want to shoot at the moment and get the quick tip for taking the image. The HDR image below is a shot from my hotel room in Orlando while attending Photoshop World (these are a blast to attend if you have not done so yet) a few years ago that follows the tip “Shoot From Up Really High” in Book 3. I just checked the price on his books and they are quite reduced from the cost on the cover – very good buys!

6. THE FADER PLUGIN FOR LIGHTROOM – (now $10)

I did a blog on this cool little plug-in program back when it first came out. (See Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!) They have since upgraded it but it is the same basic program and I find I use it all the time. The basic concept is that when you apply a preset in Lightroom, it is applied at 100% – that is your only choice. Using this Fader plug-in, you can set it to any amount up to 150% and you get a live view of how it looks while adjusting the one slider. It is absolutely ingenious! The image of the mum below used Photoshop Guy Matt Kloskowski’s Wedding Fairytale Dark Edge preset applied to it at 115% using the Fader. Then an adjustment brush adding the slight yellow color for the centers was added. The texture is Painted Textures Taupe Canvas, French Kiss PhotoStudio2 Overlay ( from No. 2 above), and my free SJ-Snow1 Overlay.

7.  THE ARTIST QUARTER (TAQ) WATERCOLOUR BRUSHES – (around $30)

As I have always said, I am no painter but I just love dabbling. So when Dr. Russell Brown (my Photoshop hero) and Tim Shelbourne (a wonderful artist) came up with their Artist Assistant panel, I fell victim. The Watercolour Assistant Panel is free for Photoshop CS6 and can be downloaded from Dr. Brown’s Scripts page. I can tell you it takes practice to be successful at this, and I have not mastered it yet, but using Tim’s TAQ Watercolour Cloning Brushes definitely helps to create a nice watercolor feel from an image. If you are interested in painting watercolor, check out his website and his brushes. I hope to do a future blog on this technique since it really is a lot of fun to do.

8.  STEADEPOD CAMERA ACCESSORY – ($29.95)

How many times have you been out shooting and wished you had a tripod with you? Unless I plan on going somewhere that is easy go with my car, I usually just wing it. When I went to Photoshop World a couple years ago, this was one of the items in the vendor area. I bought a Steadepod and I now carry it with me whenever I shoot. It may not be a great as a tripod, but it sure beats having nothing. What a life-saver! and fairly inexpensive. This is one of those gadgets you wonder how you ever got along without it. It sets up very quickly and you can get those wonderful HDR landscape and indoor shots you want – and no one says you cannot use it in some places where tripods are not allowed!

9.  LIGHTROOM 4 UNMASKED E-BOOK – ($20)

Recently I decided that I needed to get a new Lightroom reference book since the latest version has been updated a lot. When Craft & Vision issued a notice that a new E-book on Lightroom was available for a reasonable price, I decided to give it a try. Piet Van den Eynde does an excellent job with this Lightroom 4 Unmasked E-book. It is 313 pages long and covers everything, and from a fresh perspective. Besides a Table of Contents which links through properly, he has a Cases page with links that answer basic questions and offer new techniques. Also check out Craft & Vision’s other E-books – David duChemin (a really great photographer) and Piet have several listed. These E-books are great reads at reasonable prices.

10. LIGHTROOM PRESETS BY DAVID duCHEMIN – ($10)

Speaking of David duChemin, he came out with a set of 36 Lightroom Develop Presets and instructions on how to use them. I bought them as I really liked the Milford Greens presets and several of his Black and White presets are now my favorites. This is a very handy set and reasonably priced (approx $0.25 a preset). The Hawaiian Boy and Turtle Sculpture below uses one of the beautiful Milford Greens presets, then The Fader plug-in (see No. 6 above) was opened and applied at 115% before finishing up in Photoshop.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8064/8238688964_bbfd5f52c3.jpg

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TOTALLY CHEAP CORNER!

11. SHADOWHOUSE CREATIONS – LARGE VARIETY AND BEAUTIFUL TEXTURES – ($0 but he deserves donations!)

Jerry Jones of Shadowhouse Creations is one of the most generous people in the texture community. His textures are fabulous with a large variety from which to select. He often adds good examples and details on how to use the set he is featuring. He also creates brushes, layer styles, overlays, and actions. This is a “must have” bookmark for anyone who dabbles in the artistic aspects of Photoshop. The pink daisies are treated with two of my very favorite textures from Shadowhouse Creations: Marshmellow Skies set to Normal blend mode at 72% opacity and Oil Painting 1 set to Hard Light at 26%.

https://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7175/6813181699_a95ea3bef8.jpg

12.  SEVERAL RUSSELL BROWN PANELS – ($0)

I mentioned one of these in No. 7 above – Russell Brown’s panels are the best! Download them all from Dr.Brown’s Scripts page.

  • The one I use the most is the Adobe Paper Texture Panel. This is a quick and easy way to try several textures on top of your image quickly – it sizes them and sets them to any blend mode you want to see. See my blog Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated! for more info. I noticed he does not have the CS5 version posted anymore.
  • Another panel I really like is the Edit Layers in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) panel for Photoshop CS6. (Scroll down the page to get the same as an equivalent script for CS5.) This is very useful, especially if you use Lightroom. It saves time if you need to fix something in Camera RAW quick (like remove noise or Chromatic Aberration or adjust orange which is not in Photoshop) and you do not want to go back into Lightroom to adjust it.  Basically all you have to do in CS6 to access this script is to open the panel and click on the button  – it immediately turns your layer into a Smart Object so you can edit again later if needed, and takes you right into ACR. For CS5 you will have to go to the File -> Scripts -> Dr. Brown’s Edit Layer in ACR to run. Check out my blog Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script for more information on this.
  • As already mentioned above, Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! is another fun free panel to try out! It takes you through several steps – like a Photoshop action that stops at each step. It also takes some practice but if you are a little artistic, you will love it. See my blog Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! on how to do this.
  • And once again, the Watercolour Assistant Panel is free for Photoshop CS6 only – see No. 7 above for more on this.

The flowers below were created using the Photoshop CS5 Painting Assistant.

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8454/8008222158_bd9608f384.jpg

13. PIXEL BENDER (FOR PHOTOSHOP CS5 ONLY) – ($0)

This item has been around a while – is a great little plug-in offered over at Adobe Labs Downloads that contains several different filters, and others can be added in. Click on 7. on download page to get to the Adobe Pixel Bender Exchange to find what they have to offer. I am so sorry that it cannot be used with Photoshop CS6 because some of my favorite effects were in this little plug-in. That is one reason why both CS6 and CS5 are on my computer – I still use this plug-in. When you download the plug-in, you get the really nice Oil Paint Filter, which is similar to the one added to Photoshop CS6 – see my blog Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter. One that is a lot of fun is the Escher’s Droste Effect – see my blog Pixel Bender Droste Effect for more information on this filter. The filter I use the most in Pixel Bender is from an outside source and is called Kill White – it takes out all the white from an image in a single click. Very handy! (Mike at Mike’s Extra says the 32-bit filter download currently works with the 32-bit Photoshop CS6 but he has not been able to get the 64-bit plug-in working.) This image is of one of my Orange Hibiscus using instructions from my Droste Effect blog link above.

https://i0.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5256/5459666308_4ca45d5487.jpg

14.  PHOTOMATIX MERGE TO 32-BIT HDR PLUG-IN FOR LIGHTROOM 4.1 USERS – ($0 if you already own Photomatix Pro)

Since there is not much for the HDR fanatic (although the Steadepod in No. 8 above is perfect for HDR in difficult places), the Merge to 32-Bit HDR Plug-in is a little heralded plug-in that HDR Soft released earlier this year and I find it indispensable. Since it is free to owners of the Photomatix Pro program (one of the HDR industry standards for processing HDR images), I thought I would mention it here. The first image in this blog was created from 3 images stacked with this program.  You first select your HDR images in Lightroom, go to Export -> Merge to 32-Bit HDR – it then aligns and brings the file back into Lightroom as a TIFF for processing. Very quick and very useful – much faster than going into Photoshop to stack and align them.

15. 50 FREE HIGH QUALITY TEXTURE PACKS – ($0)

This is a just-for-fun link I found over a year ago but it has 50 sites which also have links and lots of freebies on each site, not just great textures. Total fun and your Photoshop buddy will love browsing through all the wonderful things available and you will be a hero! Check out 50 Free High Quality Texture Packs by tutslist.com.

I hope this blog has given you some ideas and places to check out if you are looking for that special Photoshop or Photography gift that will not “break the bank!” If you want more ideas, check out my Inexpensive Gifts for Photoshop Lovers for 2011. I know with the economy the way it is, it is hard to find something that is really nice or unique – maybe this blog will give you some great ideas. Happy Shopping!…..Digital Lady Syd


Some Free Christmas Overlays to Spice Up Your Christmas Cards

It is that time of year again and everybody is busy trying to get their cards ready to send out. Last year I gave out a pretty nice PSD template that is very flexible for creating any kind of card you want with an appropriate opening for those kid shots that are so popular. (See Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template.) Recently I have been working with overlays and I have created a few for you (see download link below) that can be used both on your images and/or as an inside card message. (Note: these could have been made as JPG files but I like to create PNG files where their is transparency involved – you do not have to remove any white or black backgrounds since it is just the object itself in the file.)

These beautiful Alstroemeria flowers were taken at the local grocery store using my point-and-shoot Kodak camera. They were processed first with OnOne (see sidebar for website link on my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Effects using two filters stacked: Rice Paper Light Texture topped by Hollywood Glow at 50% opacity. French Kiss’s Artiste Joyeuse Texture (this is not a free texture but they are so nice that I bought this collection) was placed on top and set to 94% opacity.  The flowers were painted back in on a white layer mask using a 30% opacity black brush – just gradually built up the effect so the edges are not as visible as the center area. To create the red and green effect from a very beige and pink texture, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was placed on top and clipped to the texture layer (CTRL+click between the two layers in the Layers Panel). The Colors Neutrals, Reds and Yellows were adjusted to get the Christmas colors. My Merry Christmas Overlay was placed in the right upper corner and can be downloaded for free below. To change the color of the overlay to green, a Color Fill Adjustment Layer (Layers -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color and check the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask box to clip the layer to the overlay layer) was added. A Drop Shadow Layer Style (click 2nd icon at bottom of Layer Panel and set color to White, Opacity to 63%, turn off Global Light, Distance of 6, Spread 36,and a Size of 7) was created to make the letters stand out better. To get the red text, the Overlay layer was duplicated and a layer mask was added – just remove anything you want left in the original color by painting it out with a black brush in the mask. Then add a new Color Fill Adjustment Layer with the new color clipped to the duplicate layer and you get a second color in the overlay! The Drop Shadow Layer Style color was changed to a light pink at 27% opacity, distance of 0, spread of 32 and Size of 141. A brown 3 pixel Stroke was also added. The last step was to add a layer with snow – my very favorite snow brush is Snow Drops by Frostbow painted at 500 pixels in white. That is all that was done. Not a real difficult process and the textures, overlay and brush combine really nicely to give a great holiday look!
…..Here is another holiday overlay that you can add to your cards. This time these miniature white mums were first processed in Lightroom, before cleaning up the background and flowers in Photoshop. Then French Kiss Expressions Watercolor Texture Verve (very inexpensive but lovely  watercolor set – perfect for trying out textures without too much cost) was added and set to 77% opacity. By filling a layer mask with black and painting back the background using a 30% opacity white brush, you can a create soft edge look to your flowers. To get the pretty soft green coloration in the texture (this was originally a yellow and light brown texture), two adjustments layers were clipped on top: a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and changes made to the Colors Reds, Yellows, Whites and Grays; and a Color Balance Adjustment Layer to add a touch more color. Next my Holiday Greeting PNG Overlay was added (see download link below) and a Color Fill in Green was clipped to add the color to the overlay. My vertical text was the Orial font with a Stroke Layer Style using a green stroke color and an Inner Shadow using a dark brown color at size 7 px. That’s it!
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The bottom texture overlay is one of my favorites from Shadowhouse Creations called MO8-2012-5 and the beautiful Rockinghorse Santa png overlay is also from him. The Merry Christmas brush is from Obsidian Dawn’s Christmas Vectors Brush Set with a red Inner Glow layer style. Next my Snow 2 Overlay (download below) was added at 68% opacity. I love the vintage feel of this image.
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I want to recognize the wonderful sites used to create these overlays and give you their resource links so you can make some of your own. See my blog How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images for steps on how to create your own overlays and for steps on how to add these already created overlays to your images.

  • Snow1 and Snow2 Overlays: The Snow Overlay was created using the instructions from the December 2012 Photoshop User Magazine article by Bert Monroy (this guy is incredible!) called Let It Snow. Pretty simple to follow except I had to add more Gaussian Blur to get the effect I wanted.

****DOWNLOAD LINK FOR MY HOLIDAY OVERLAYS USED IN THIS BLOG****

I hope you enjoy the overlays. These are really fun to do. If you like the way an overlay looks in certain colors, follow Steps 5 and 6 in the Basic Section in my Overlay blog and save it down as a color version – creating an overlay in black and white just makes it easier to change the colors each time you use it. In the meantime you are welcome to use the ones I posted on my Deviant Art site – this is a good starting point. Now get busy and make some beautiful cards!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template
Digital Lady Syd’s Free Christmas Card Template Using Photoshop Elements
Free Christmas Card Vectors and Brushes
Some Holiday Cheer
How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images


How to Create Personal Overlays for Your Images

I have been thinking about this subject ever since I bought some beautiful overlays from the French Kiss website. Their overlays are based on genuine old French letters and postmarks, but it seemed to me that it should be a fairly easy to create your own customized overlays. So this blog is about making your own overlays. The image above is of the pretty light purple Phlox Phloxy Lady flowers I had growing in my front yard and by adding texture and overlays to it, a soft romantic feel is created. This image used a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “The Flowers” and was a fairly easy example on how to start creating your own overlays. The steps below will guide you through this process.

The Basic Steps to Create a Text or Object Overlay (png) File for your Images.

1.  Create a New Document – I used an 8 X 10 inch document at 300 ppi.

2. If creating text, select the Text Tool, which creates a Text Layer on top of your Background Layer. In the Options Bar set your text color to Black for now (3rd icon over from right) and select an appropriate font. In the case above, the Old Script Font was chosen because the letters actually look like writing.

3. Type in your text. I like to use poetry quotes but use your own work for a real personal feel. Several different Text layers can be created using the same or different fonts. Add Clip Art layers or use a New Layer to paint in your own ideas – I find sticking to black a good idea and then adding color in later.

4. Once finished entering text and/or objects, turn off your background layer click on the eyeball on the left edge of the Layer in the Layers Palette. The image above just had one text layer, so it was duplicated and rasterized (right click on text layer and select rasterize so it is no longer a text layer). If more than one text or object layer is in the file, create a composite layer at top by highlighting the top layer and pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E so all the text or object layers are combined into one layer.

5. Now turn off all the eyeballs to the left of the layers except for the new top composite layer.

6. Here is the trick to getting this psd layer into a png file format to use as an overlay in your documents. Go to File -> Scripts -> Export Layers to Files. You need to set up a location for your new png file, name your file, and set the File Type to PNG-24. This takes a minute for Photoshop to process, but it eventually puts the png file where you told it to go, and takes you back to your original psd document with no changes made to it. If confused see my How To Make Frames or Borders blog, which uses the same basic process, where a screenshot of how this dialog box should look is provided.

How to Add the Overlay png File to an Image.

1. Open your document and go to Adobe Bridge to find your Overlay. Click on thumbnail, right click and choose Place -> In Photoshop.

2. Now adjust the handles and size (since the file comes in as a Smart Object layer, it works like the Free Transform command) and place the overlay where you want it. Double-click inside the overlay or click the checkmark in Options Bar to set the placement.

3. I always get rid of the Smart Object now by right clicking on the layer in the Layers Panel and select Rasterize Layer from the menu.

4. To change the overlay color go to Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color and be sure to check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. Select any color you want – I usually sample with the eyedropper that appears when hovering over the image to set the color of the text.

5. On the overlay layer, adjust the opacity or add a layer mask and paint with a low opacity brush in the mask to lighten part of the text. This was done on the image above to soften the look a little. Use Free Transform (CTRL+T) to resize, turn or move the overlay.
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This vintage looking pink gerbera daisy that was growing on my porch was a perfect image to try out my own French overlay. First I had to make the overlay png file, then it was added to my final image. I would suggest that you check out the French Kiss website and/or Graphics Fairy website to get a feel on how to set up a custom overlay look. Create your overlay file by following The Basic Steps above. In my overlay, a fancy font called ExtraOrnamental No. 2 was used. The other font used is Easy Street Alt EPS. I found the filmstrip layer from my blog header and removed all the white from it as another layer. Some ornamentation was added using paintbrushes called 100 old ornaments–Buburu Resources – a New Layer was created and by rotating the direction of the brush, you can connect them to create some nice looking ornaments. Once you have all your layers set up, follow the steps in The Basic Steps section to create your png file. Keep you psd file so you can reuse the layers to create different but similar overlays. I did this for the last two images below. Follow the How to Use Overlay section to finish up your image. Four texture layers and a frame overlay were also used in the image above. The overlay was set to 66% opacity. Below is the png file as it appeared before adding to the flower image. …..Here is another example of using several overlays that I created. I began this image by creating a png overlay file out of some daisies I found in an old Clip Art book called Flower Illustrations by Dover Publications that I bought years ago (there are still many similar books available on Amazon very inexpensively and can be a really fun resource). The clip art is just black lines on white. The white was deleted from the clip art by using Select -> Color Range and clicking on all the white so just the black lines were selected. Then I duplicated the selection by going to CTRL+J and just the line art shows up on the layer. This layer was taken into the Export Layers to Files using Steps 5 and 6 in The Basic Steps section above. Now I started a new document and added my new png flower layer. I decided to Warp it using Free Transform (CTRL+T) and selecting Warp in the Options Bar. By pulling on the different lines, you can get some very interesting effects. I felt this image looked like it was now blowing in the wind. Next I added a New Layer above and just painted different colors in the petals and stem. By lowering the opacity of the png flower layer, the lines disappeared and showed just the flower contours. I decided to create a text overlay png new file as described in The Basic Steps section above so I could use it again. Some text from Bob Dylan’s song “Blowin’ In the Wind” was added using 1942 Report font in purple-pink and a new png file was created. It was brought into my original document – the second time it was applied, it warped using CTRL+T again to get the crazy flying type look. A layer mask was added so the text could be removed from the flowers. Then I decided I wanted to create my own grunge border. There are several ways to do this (see my my How To Make Frames or Borders blog). This time I used NIK Color Efex Pro 4‘s Image Border filter and set Size to -100, Spread to 100, all the way Rough, and Vary to 9165. Once back in Photoshop, I selected the border using Color Range and placed it on its own layer. I cleaned up the lines using a fine black line and saved it down as a .png file so I can use it again. As you can see, there is a lot of repetition in this process. Not that difficult once you get a selection of what you want. I experimented with several different background colors and did add a soft white hazy look by painting on a layer using Nakatoni Texture Brush (I still cannot find them anymore) at a low opacity.
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This yellow mum shot uses the sames steps as the gerbera daisy image – a different line of text was added and several other elements removed from the same overlay psd file. Once the png file was added to the image, a Layer Style was applied to the png overlay layer using Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow effects. The Outer Glow was spread out with a darker color to make the letters stand out a little better.
…..This final example took yet another arrangement of other the text. Once the png file was brought into the image, it was warped to get the old look. Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 was used to get the vintage look. You can get really creative with the overlay layer effects.

Just remember to create a composite of all the layers to include in your overlay and save just that layer as a png. This is such a simple process, but it looks hard. Be sure when you do download a font that you understand what the usage requirements for that font are – just because you can download them does not mean they are free for all uses. This romantic French effect seems to lend itself nicely to flowers and soft texturized images. In my Tidbits Blog Displacing an Overlay I show you how to displace your overlay onto a textures background to give it a real vintage look. Also, check out my newer blog How To Create an Overlay Out of a Texture for more fun overlay tricks. Try making an overlay – it is fun to do!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Checking Out French Kiss Textures
A Vintage Butterfly Postcard Effect