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Posts tagged “Kill White plug in

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!


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.




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%.


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.


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.

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.


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

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

Faking Fireworks!

(Updated 07/04/20) Since the Fourth of July is just around the corner, I thought I would create a blog for making some of your beautiful night images into spectacular holiday images. Just to get you in the mood, here is a link to Stunning Fireworks Photos from Smashing Magazine. This was helpful to see the colors needed to get a realistic look on some of the fireworks.

As far as I can tell, there are two major ways of making images look like a fireworks celebration: either by adding fireworks images to a nighttime image or painting in the fireworks with brushes. This blog will address both types.

Creating Fireworks with Images

The above image used five different fireworks – old jpg images (from a 2 megapixel camera taken 8 years ago so don’t delete those old images, you may use them years later) brought into the original nighttime photo of the Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Do correction to your original image. A really dark scene is helpful.
  2. Go into Adobe Bridge and just drag the first image into Photoshop (does the same thing as File -> Place an object).
  3. The new image comes in as a Smart Object (right click and your will see the Free Transform choices) and can now be moved and sized (adjust by just dragging in the handles). Click Enter. I usually rasterize to get rid of the Smart Object as it makes the file bigger and is not needed for this workflow – just right click on the fireworks layer and select Rasterize layer.
  4. Double-click on the fireworks layer to open up the Layer Style and go to the “This Layer” slider near the bottom of the dialog box. Since the fireworks images have dark backgrounds, move the black tab right to get the correct effect. Then hold the ALT key to split the tab, click on the left side of the tab and drag it back to get a smooth the transition. If your image has a white background, move the right tab left, hold the ALT key and drag the right portion of tab back for the desired look.
  5. Add a layer mask to the layer and paint out any areas that are covering up part of the background image to make the fireworks look realistic. May need to lower the opacity of the level to see where to mask and then bring it back up to 100% when finished.
  6. Keep adding in more fireworks.
  7. Use a Basic Soft White Cloud Brush to paint in the soft black smoke coming from the fireworks. Set layer opacity to around 5-10% – do not overwhelm the image with smoke.

This basic workflow is from Scott Kelby’s book, Classic Photoshop Effects, “Adding Fireworks to Nighttime Photos,” one of the few nice fireworks tutorials I could find. Also, the Basic Soft White Cloud Brush was created by following the video Brush Dynamics and Fluffy Clouds in Photoshop by Ice Flow at (no longer available but many other tutorials on this subject are).

Several beautiful fireworks images were downloaded for free from Stock.xchng and can be added to your images following the above workflow. They were moved into a black background. Here is a link to the Fireworks images – there are 46 pages of them so have fun finding some nice ones! Once you log in and download an image, you need to right click and select the Save Image As to your computer.

Painting Fireworks into your Images

Here is an example of Fireworks brushes that can be downloaded from the internet. After trying many fireworks brushes, the best are once again from Obsidian Dawn’s Fireworks set with a very small fee attached to the download now. (There are also jpg’s of these same brushes for download – to use follow the steps in the next section.) Obsidian Dawn had some great tips on how to use her great brushes so I thought I would share:

  • Can use as just a solid color and they look great but to make them more colorful, apply a Radial Gradient to the layer. This is pretty easy – just follow these steps:
  1. Create a New Layer above your nighttime image.
  2. Click to make just one brush stroke – choose a bright color.
  3. On the brush layer, double click the layer to open the Layer Styles dialog and go to Gradient Overlay. Change Style to Radial and select any Gradient. A new group of gradients may be added by clicking the drop down arrow and clicking on the right pointing arrow in the top right corner. Try clicking Reverse checkbox to change color order. Change the scale to adjust which colors go where and try different blend modes and opacity.
  • Remember some fireworks are brighter in the center – some the outer edges. To get this effect for using only one color, use a basic Black and White gradient in the Gradient Overlay Layer Style and set the blending mode to Screen. Set the Gradient opacity to 50% so it is not too bright. Use the Reverse checkbox to toggle where the darker and light colors show up.
  • Try an Outer Glow Layer Style to make them more luminescent – try a different color too. Also try Color Overlay in a different color at a very low opacity to add some new color.

The Fountain above was created by using Photoshop Free Brushes Firework’s Brushes no.3 – placed on its own layer, duplicate it, Free Transform (CTRL+T) and flip Horizontal. Add a Linear gradient to get the effect. This set of  brushes were created from clip art so most of them are not so realistic looking but nice if you want a more graphic look.

There is another way to get some interesting fireworks results that was posted as a comment on Photoshop Daily blog by Jo Cole that you might want to try. Once a fireworks brush is selected, here is what Kazzie said in her comment about creating a new brush to get a really nice fireworks:

“Shape Dynamics: size jitter – 75-100%.  Color Dynamics: foreground/background 75-100%, Hue – 50-100%, Saturation – 100%, Purity – (+100).  Brush Tip Shape: spacing = 1% or OFF. I set the foreground/background colors to bright colors in the main menu. Then I just clicked in the same place to achieve glorious fireworks using basic white color in between clicks.”

I tried this and it creates some very nice results that look similar to the orange and yellow fireworks above, but you must be careful not to click too much or you lose the effect. Go in and try different Hue settings. Once you get some settings you like, be sure to save as a new brush so you do not have to keep resetting it every time you try a different brush. (See my blog on “How to Create Photoshop Brushes from Objects or Text.”)

Combining the two processes

For the above image, both fireworks brushes and several jpg images from Obsidian Dawn were used. Since the fireworks are on a white background, I used the free Adobe Pixel Bender filter and my favorite filter for it, the free Kill White filter (This filter does not appear to be available anymore but am not sure about Pixel Bender.) It works better with Pixel Bender than just as a Photoshop plug-in) to delete the white areas – can get some very interesting effects using Kill White so I recommend downloading it. (Note often an error warning comes up when applying Pixel Bender – just say OK.) Below is the workflow used for the jpgs.

  1. Open up your base nighttime image.
  2. Drag over one of the jpg from Adobe Bridge – comes in as a Smart Object so adjust the size and position. The right click on the layer and choose Rasterize layer to remove Smart Object.
  3. Go to Pixel Bender and select MikeYael_Kill White. Pixel Bender is not long available but Select -> Color Range is and choose Shadows. Say OK and a layer mask – then apply it.
  4. Double click on the fireworks layer and open the Layer Style. Choose the Gradient Overlay and set the Style to Radial. Open up the different Gradients and load any new ones you want to try by clicking the popout at the top right and appending them. Then adjust the Scale, try reversing the colors and changing the blend mode.

To get the reflection on the water, after making all your fireworks, put them in a group named fireworks. Next right click on the Layers Panel popout and select Merge Group to create just one layer of the firework objects. Free Transform (CTRL+T) and select Flip Vertical. Hold SHIFT Key and drag straight down to a point. Enter. Go to Filter -> Blue -> Gaussian Blue and select a Radius between 3 and 10. Add  a layer mask to mask out anywhere the reflection should not be or to tone down some of the brighter colors with a 20% opacity soft round Brush. Can add in some smoke with the Basic Soft Cloud Brush and set to a very low opacity – usually between 5 to 10%.

I guess you can tell that an image which may not be that great can take on a really nice look with the fireworks. This has once again been a lot of fun to explore and try. It is really worth your time to play around with some of these effects – you can learn a lot! Hope everyone has a very happy Fourth of July celebration!…..Digital Lady Syd

Word Fun with Tagxedo

A few months ago I heard about Tagxedo, a free internet-based program that fits words into shapes while emphasizing the most important or used words.  I did not have time to try it around the holidays, but with this post I wanted to show you a few of the cool results you can get from this site.   Currently the program is in beta testing and is free – eventually there will be a charge to get full use.  Check out their article entitled “101 Ways to Use Tagxedo” to get lots of great project ideas.

The above image includes one of the provided shapes (Rose) and used very basic settings. Tagxedo allows you to upload your own shape, font, and text. I used the font, Fantaisie Artistique (a retro font I really like – click the link for a free download from  Click on the arrow to the right of the word Font which opens up the Font menu, and at the bottom click on the Add Fonts button to select a font from your computer.  To create your own color schemes, click to the right of the word Theme to open the Theme Menu,  and at the bottom click on Add Theme button to insert color numbers from Photoshop’s color picker – this image used f06eaa and ffffff (pink and white).  Finally I created a list of flower and summer words in Notepad and copied them into Load – Enter Text field.  Note you must use CTRL+V to paste into this field.  This is where any text can be copied in and several other options are presented.

The above image used the program shape called Cup (I think it looks like a watering can) with their color scheme called Rainbow Bright.  Texture No. 17 from Photoradar (one of 100 free textures to download), a stock photo of flying birds, and my picture of Pensacola Beach  from last July were added as background treatment in Photoshop.  An OnOne PhotoFrame was added as a final touch.

In this last example a Robert Frost poem called “On a Tree Fallen Across the Road” was used to show how the main words in the poem are chosen – in this case only horizontal lines were applied.  A provided Font called Pea Mee-Mee and the color scheme 51610.8 was selected.  With the Custom Shape Tool in Photoshop, a tree shape from an Adobe free download called 150 more shapes was created.  Next the white from the background was removed withused the free Adobe Pixel Bender filter and my favorite filter for it, the free Kill White filter (it works better with Pixel Bender than just as a Photoshop plug-in) to delete the white areas – can get some very interesting effects using Kill White so I recommend downloading it. (Note – often an error warning comes up when applying Pixel Bender – just say OK.) The image was saved as a png so it could be added in with the Shape Menu of Tagxedo.   Once finished with the image in Tagxedo, it was brought back into Photoshop and placed over the original shape layer created for Tagxedo.  The same saved Tagxedo image was added back in as one of the background layers,  some other textures and brush layers were added along with a vignette and an OnOne Photo Frame (here is a link for a smaller free version to use).

There are so many things you can do with this program  and I plan on spending some more time just creating different effects.  Once again, trying out new things is so much fun – and this program is definitely one you should try!…..Digital Lady Syd