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Posts tagged “Nik Color Efex Pro 4

HOW TO ADD A SKETCH EFFECT QUICKLY

Image of a Japanese Festive Doll This week I wanted to say that I will be taking several weeks off from blogging (after 7 1/2 years of this) to take care of a few other things on my list. Will be popping in as time allows and will definitely not be closing my site. Just a temporary break as these blogs take some time to do and my schedule is currently a bit limited. That being the case, I will present a quick sketch tip today that was used on the above image of a Japanese Festive Doll at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.

First began by creating a sketch effect. This was one I had forgotten about from the great Photoshop guru, Corey Barker, who used it in a tutorial a long time ago. This effect was first done on the doll image and then on the background image. This technique can be done on just one image also. Make sure you have all the clean up that needs to be done on the image(s) and also make sure the image is a sharp as you wanted. The background was from an image on  Unsplash by Sorasak of Kyota, Japan – when opened in Photoshop, it had a resolution of 72 so this had to be changed: go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resample box – change the resolution to 300; then click the Resample box again and set to Bicubic Sharper (reduction) since the size of the actually image gets much less (though still pretty big). Now to create the Sketch Look.

  1. Duplicate the background and desaturate the image. This can be done quickly by either pressing CTRL+ALT+U (Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate), or could add a Black & White Adjustment Layer, or a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer set to Black and White gradient or a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the Master Saturation set to -100.
  2. Create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and set the layer to Divide blend mode. Now you see a sketch effect.
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to a sketch effect you like. The doll was set to 5.5 pixels and the background to 24.9 pixels which gave a heavier look to the lines of the city. There is your sketch.
  4. To add color back into the image, duplicate the bottom background layer and place it on top. Add a black layer mask to this layer and gently dab into the mask with a lower opacity brush. The color will appear very much like an illustrated watercolor effect. On this layer, other filter effects can be used like from Topaz  (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio or Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to give a different color and look to the color being brought back into the image. Or add another copy on top of this layer to get even more effects into the image.

For the doll, another 2nd copy of the background was placed on top, then CTRL+I was pressed on the layer thumbnail to invert the colors. A black layer mask was added and just a bit of complementary color was added back into the image to add interest.

To finish the image, the doll was selected using the Quick Selection Tool and Select and Mask in Photoshop. The layer was then taken into the Kyota image where the sketching and light color effect was already done. A stamped layer was created and then Topaz Adjust’s Setting Sun preset was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to bring back some of the image contrast and then on another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Travertine Tint was added. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add more contrast back into the image. Some clean up and a watercolor edge was done to complete the image.

Well I hope you get a chance to try out this sketch technique. It is pretty easy to do and works rather nicely, especially if you want to add some color back into the image. I will be returning in a few weeks……Enjoy the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd


NOW AVAILABLE – FREE BETA VERSION OF MACPHUN’S LUMINAR FOR WINDOWS

Painted image of a sailboat on a rough seaThis week I discovered that Macphun’s Luminar software has a free Beta release for us PC Windows 10 users to try out. (Click here to get the Beta download – they will quickly send you an E-mail to unlock the program once you submit a request.) You Mac people have been enjoying this stand-alone and plug-in for PS and LR for a while now, but this is great news for us PC folks. I just put it on my computer a couple days ago and am really enjoying it. Lots of new things to explore! It is only available for Windows as a stand-alone version right now, but a lot of the Mac functionality has been added to get some interesting results. I am finding this program very useful for getting a “pop” out of an image, and the canned presets are a great place to start.

My ocean image above was my first attempt at using this plug-in – and yes, the original painting was done in PS and Corel Painter and it was also finished up in PS. But the really beautiful overall effect (that pop I was looking for) was created in Luminar. It is fun to just try out the over 50 custom presets on an image, and there are also 30 individual filter effects with all kinds of sliders. This gives you quite a few options for getting some very different effects and pretty quickly. A lot of the filters were designed to emulate several of the now old Nik Color Efex Pro4 filters. Google is no longer updating their Nik plug-ins which means as operating systems and software get upgraded, they may no longer work – currently I am not having any problems with them. Many of the past Nik software engineers now work at Macphun. In fact if you are a member of KelbyOne, Scott Kelby’s training videos called How to Use Macphun’s Luminar Plugin for Lightroom and Photoshop help you set up some of the favorite Nik filters in Luminar. 
Screenshot of Luminar Interface
As you can see in the screenshot (click to see larger in Flickr), the filters applied for this image are in the right panel and the presets are in the film strip below –  the preset highlighted is one I created containing the right side filter settings. And notice the Dramatic filter (the cut-off last two settings were Brightness 3 and Saturation -25) which is very similar to the Bleach Bypass filter in Color Efex Pro4 for example.

The biggest drawback is that it is only a stand-alone program for Windows. Here is the work-around to use the Luminar image as a layer in Photoshop. For a full workflow on how the top image was created, see section below.

  1. Create a stamped layer on top in PS (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E).
  2. Duplicate this layer by doing this: Layers -> Duplicate and in the drop-down, select New and create a New Document.
  3. Save this file as either a PSD or a JPG – both will open as an image in Luminar.
  4. Open Luminar and do your changes – then Export as a JPG by clicking on the little box with the arrow going up (2nd icon over on top).
  5. Now add this JPG file into the original Photoshop file. I like to use the Bridge (File -> Open -> Place -> In Photoshop or right click and choose Place) to do this and it adds it right into the original file. From Photoshop go to File -> Place Embedded or can just open the Luminar JPG file in PS and drag over as a layer or go to Layers -> Duplicate and in the drop-down select the original file. Once combined, a Layer Mask, Blend Modes and Opacity can be added or changed on the layer.

I know this is a bit of a bother, but until the Windows version is released, which is scheduled for the end of November, this is what needs to be done. There are also several items missing in this version that can be frustrating – but remember this is just a Beta version. One of the big issues for me is that the individual filters cannot be turned on and off  to see the resulting effect – must go into the history icon (8th icon on top) and click back and forth to see the change it created – or each filter can be put on different Luminar layers so the whole layer can be turned on and off.  For each Luminar layer several filters can be added to it without creating a new  layer. Also, blend modes are missing for use with their filters and layers, which makes the Texture Overlay filter very hard to use right now. The image can only be exported as a JPG which is okay if you are just going to take it into PS to do more adjusting. The Mac version allows importing and exporting from Lightroom as a PSD file and as a layer in PS. There are several tools that will be added with the release including the Eraser, Denoise, Transform, Clone and Stamp, and Radial Gradient. Also Mask Feather, Mask Density, and Luminosity Masks will be added. Masks can be applied to both the individual filters and each layer if the Brush Tool is selected – I found this was a little tricky to do.

Ocean Image Example Workflow

The above image was created using one of my Corel Painter backgrounds (that did not look near this dramatic), Graphic Fairy’s Vintage Blue Boats Picture, and a brush called Tsaoshin Full Brushes Set – lightning brush 200. One of my vertical light leaks was added on the right side of the image and set to 52% opacity. (I created 5 different sizes and colors that I use all the time – can use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to the leak layer to change the color and Free Transform (CTLR+T) to line up in image. See my How to Create Light Leaks to Use Over Again blog.) At this point a composite layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and taken into Luminar where the Sharp and Crisp Luminar preset was initially selected – it contained the Dramatic, Details Enhancer, Advanced Contrast and Sharpening filters all on Layer 0 and can be individually adjusted to your image. On a second layer the Accent AI Enhancer filter was added which contains a Boost slider – this is one of the newest and possibly best filters added in both Mac and Windows versions of the software. The Boost slider is their “Artificial Intelligence” slider and works wonders on almost any image! If it is too much in certain areas, the Gradient Tool or a Brush can be used on a mask to remove the effect. Now saved the image as a JPG. Back in the original PS, this JPG was placed back into the original using Adobe Bridge. In PS just a little clean up and masking was done where the sails looked a little too crisp. Last step, Matt K’s vignette was created and set to Multiply at 15% layer opacity. (See my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog for how to do this.)Image of an Edinburgh StreetFor the Edinburgh Street image above, no preset was selected, but just started adding effects until I found some I liked – the Dramatic and Adjustable Gradient filters were selected. Bottom line is that the program is a little quirky still – I got it to crash once and when using the brush in the layer  masks, got some really weird artifacts so expect this. But overall it is a lot of fun to try out and see what Macphun has created. Hope you get a chance to load the software and see what you think.  Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO ADD A SIMPLE GLOW EFFECT TO YOUR IMAGE

Image of a Palm Beach Florida HomeI have always enjoyed a nice soft glow effect in my images. This week I have been experimenting with the On1 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Photo 10 (which is now version 10.5) and am finding this is a much improved plug-in from a few years ago. The image above of a beautiful Palm Beach home is an example of one of their filters I like most – On1 Effects Glow Filter. This effect is very similar to the Diffusion effects in Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Glow 2 (which has many presets but not all create the above effect – still a fabulous plug-in); and Lens Effects, Topaz Black and White Effects and Topaz Adjust and even Texture Effects plug-ins (where the Softness, Diffusion and Diffusion or Edge Transition sliders can be adjusted), or in the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4’s Glamour Glow Filter with a Glow slider, Midnight Filter’s Blur slider effect, or Monday Morning’s Smear slider result. So everyone should be able to create a similar effect. All give very interesting soft effects to your images and can be localized with masks or control points.

On1 Effects offers the a lot of flexibility for this effect by providing 24 presets to select or using the individual sliders that can be adjusted manually. This also includes the ability to protect the Shadows or Highlights from this effect. For this image, Lightroom Basic Panel tweaks were done.  Then On1 Photo was opened as a stand-alone and the Perfect Layers module was selected to swap out the original colorless sky with a new one. (Go to File -> Add Layers to Files and found a sky to use.) The sky layer was placed under Palm Beach layer. Then the Masking Brush’s Perfect Brush was used to paint out old sky so the new one underneath shows through – used CTRL + drag in trees to get rid of some of the areas. Would normally use the PS Refine Brush to remove edging.  Next the sky layers was opened in the On1 Enhance module and lightened up a lot to match the top image tones. Then back into the Layers module and the Move Tool was used to adjust sky around trees. Highlighted the Palm Beach layer and went back into On1 Enhance to make a few exposure changes on the Palm Beach image layer. Last step was to use On1 Photo 10 Effects and apply the Glow Dynamic Contrast Filter – Amount 58, Halo 22, Warm 20 and Sat -24; Detail Small -34, Medium -25, Large 58. Saved image as a PSD file. This may sound like it was hard to do since three different modules were opened, but On1 had made this switch very quick and easy now. I still wish all the different panels were in just one interface as in Photoshop or Lightroom’s Develop Panel, and I wish the Layers module was available as a plug-in in PS or LR. Effects, Enhance and Portrait are available for PS and LR (if saved as a Smart Object, when image opened in PS, layers and masks will be available to edit). Still, this plug-in has come a long way and is much improved. For more information on how the sky was replaced, check out On1 Short Clip – Replacing a Dull Sky by Bob Campbell. For info on how to adjust the Glow Filter, check On1 Short Clip – The Preset Workflow Trick by Blake Rudis.

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Sign Painter at Jacksonville Zoo in FloridaSince many of you may not have the filters listed above, this image of the sign painter at the Jacksonville Zoo (this has got to be a dream job – love the paint on his pants!) used the free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters listed above to get a very similar feel. After doing some basic panel adjustments in Lightroom and sharpening up the image a little, it was brought into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer that was converted to a Smart Object (so I could go back and adjust the settings if needed – right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. These filters were selected and stacked: Glamour Glow (Glamour Glow 76%, Saturation -39%, Glow Warmth 20%, and Highlights 44% to protect them from being too soft); Midnight Color Set Neutral, Blur 37%, Contrast 50%, Brightness 67%, Color 81% and Highlights 100%. A Control Point was placed on the painter and cat’s faces to remove the softening from this area – then the filter opacity was set to 67%); and Vignette Filter (place center on the painter and cat and set Adapt Edges 0%, Transition 59%, Size 19%, and Opacity 75% – a Control Point was placed on the white Jaguars sign and set to 54% opacity). Using Control Points in this plug-in can really help shape the effect you want. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast. Very easy and it created a beautiful soft glow effect.

Hope you have a chance to try out a Glow Effect. Hope everyone has a nice beginning to the Fall Season!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow
Yellow Dogface Butterfly in her Glory!


HOW TO DO A DOUBLE-EXPOSURE FOR FUN EFFECTS

Double-exposure of a Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard PalmThis week I decided to try a little in-camera photo effect and then post-process in Photoshop. In my mind, this is the best of both worlds when trying to put an artistic feel into an image. The above was first shot with my Nikon D-300 camera (I dearly love this camera and can’t seem to part with it!) and shot the image in multiple-exposure mode using just 2 shots. I am not really sure how this type of exposure is supposed to look, but this method seems to fit floral or plant images quite well. This image was taken in my front yard of a Queen Emma Lily in front of a Cardboard Palm. I see this as a very creative blend of the two exposures but it did take some finishing work in Photoshop to get the final interesting feel.

So first the basic workflow for taking a multiple- or double-exposure shot will be covered. It is not that difficult but do consult your camera manual to get the exact menu settings to do this. I will be using the Nikon D-300 menus, which due to its older age, should be similar to what is available on most newer cameras.

1 First set your camera to Manual Focus. To do this on my camera, looking at the front of the camera the Focus Mode Selector dial is located to the lower right of the lens. The dial should be set to M for manual (as opposed to C for continuous auto focus or S for single auto focus).  Note: For my camera, if either the Camera body or the Lens is set to Manual focus, then it must be focused  manually. Many of the lenses will have a Manual focus setting also (usually the lens is set to M/A – switch to M to make it focus manually). I am using the Camera Body setting for this.

2. On the back of the camera, press the Menu button and select the Shooting Menu. Then Scroll down to the Multiple Exposure choice.

  • Select the number of exposures to shoot – the above was just a double exposure so it was set to 2. Up to 10 are allowed.
  • Select whether to turn on Auto Gain. The difference is that when it is on, the exposure time is divided by the number of exposures chosen for the image, and when off, each exposure is exposed for the full amount of time (meaning shutter speed). I had it turned off, but try both to see which looks best.

3. In my camera I need to turn on the Multiple Exposure setting each time an image is to be taken.

It sounds a lot harder than it is. Just have to get familiar with where the settings are. Now you can try different camera settings to get different results. For the above, both of the in-camera exposures were shot using the basic Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens set to 105 mm at F/5.6. Below is what the original out of camera image looks like. First the palm exposure was taken, then moved the camera and took the lily.

Original image of Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard Palm

Post-processing: In Lightroom a Trey Radcliff free preset called Sunday Alone Time was applied and then the Vibrance was lowered (-65) so it was not so colorful. In Photoshop the layer was duplicated and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow was opened and my SJ Inter Web Variation was applied. (Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) The Layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode at 96% layer opacity. A black layer mask (CTRL+click on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added and just the areas I wanted lines to show through were painted back. The Layer Style was opened (double-click on the layer) and on the Underlying Layer slide, the white tab was split (ALT+click) and set to 178/255 before exiting the menu. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. Three filters were used: Midnight with no Blur added, and overall opacity of 73%; Reflector Efex set to Gold with the light coming from bottom up; and Vignette Filter using a darkish brown color and centering on the focal point. Next the also free Nik Viveza 2 (downloads with the above plug-in) was opened and just one control point was placed in the center area to add a little more structure and whitening to the focal point. Last step involved using a New Layer to clean up lines – Grut’s – MI Swish Mini Mixer brush was used to break up the edges of some lines that were too sharp – I love this brush! Check out his other brushes too – so many wonderful ones! This image turned out to be a lot of fun and created a very different type image!

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Double Exposure image of some flowersAnother double-exposure image – used the same Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens sets 150 mm and F/5.6. This was shot with white blinds behind the flowers in a vase and sunlight strong outside. This time for the first exposure just the focus was set to a very soft blur, then the second focused in on the flower to get this soft effect. The double-exposure created an almost translucent feel in the flower petals by shooting into the lighter background. In Lightroom just a few adjustments were made before going into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was added. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Glamour Glow filter and Film Efex Vintage filter (Film Type 13) were stacked. A pink pastel texture of mine was added on top and set to Darker Color blend mode with a layer opacity of 55% – a layer mask was added and the texture was gently painted off the flowers.

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Double exposure image of dandelionsThese dandelions were shot using the same lens at 170 mm and F/5.6. Once again, the background was really defocused for the first exposure and then brought the foreground dandelions into focus for the second. My first thought was to convert this to a black and white so it was brought into Photoshop and the free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (downloads with the other Nik plug-ins) was opened. The Fine Art (high key, framed) preset was selected and the frame removed. Then a Finishing Adjustment using Toning 22 was used to give a warm tone to the overall image. There are lots of really great sliders in this plug-in so give them a try! It was set to 75% layer opacity and actually gives a really nice look at this point. But to get an artistic feel in the image, first 2 Lil’ Owl’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Stained Plaster Collection 17 texture was added to the image and on a layer mask, the foreground dandelions were painted back without the texture. On a stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Brandeis Blue preset was applied. Next another 2 Lil’ Owls texture called After the Rain 14 was added and set to Multiply blend mode at 85% opacity. Another one of her textures was added called Grunge 27 and it was set to Color Dodge blend mode. This added some texture in the bottom foreground – a black layer mask was used to remove all of the texture except this area. That is what was done to get the final image.

I hope this was not over everyone’s head – it really is just a way to change up an image and possibly get a different result. Many people go to much more extremes on shooting the double-exposure adding very different items, more like the first image. And many people are into creating silhouettes for the first exposure and then shooting small flowers for the second exposure for some incredible results. Since I am rather new at this, I stayed pretty basic with this. It does sound like it would be fun so I may have to try that for second go-round on this topic. Therefore if you just want to try something new, give this a try. It is a lot of fun and the final effects can be quite dramatic!…..Digital Lady Syd


USING PHOTOSHOP ARTISTIC FILTERS

Image of buildings along the ICW in West Palm Beach, FloridaThis image was taken from the Flagler Museum looking across the Intracoastal Waterway at buildings in West Palm Beach. I ran across a very simple technique while going through some old magazines and tried it out. Called Create an Artistic Watercolour Effect from Digital Photo in July 2005, this technique uses filters found in both Photoshop and Elements. I am not sure I would call it a true watercolor effect, but it did create a pretty nice base to start post-processing an image as shown in image below workflow.

So here are the simple steps:

  1.  Open your image and make sure it is in 8-bit mode when using Photoshop or some filters needed will not be available. (Set to Image -> Mode -> 8-bit Mode)
  2. Duplicate the Background Layer twice.
  3. On top layer go to Filter -> Stylize -> Find Edges.
  4. Still on this layer press CTRL+SHIFT+U to desaturate the image. (Or can go to Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate)
  5. Add a Levels Adjustment (Image ->Adjustments -> Levels or CTRL+L) so there is not much gray in the edges and it is looking like a sketch in black ink. The tabs may have to be moved to the center a lot to get a good effect.
  6. Change blend mode of layer to Multiply to darken lines and blend in effect.
  7. Highlight middle layer and go to Filter -> Artistic -> Dry Brush and try these settings: Brush Size 10, Brush Detail 2 and Texture 3. These can all be adjusted as every image will probably require different settings.
  8. Add another Levels Adjustment Layer just over the Dry Brush layer and adjust to get the painterly effect needed – this will lighten or darken the image.

Image with Dry Brush filter applied

That is the basic workflow. I was not sure I liked the effect of the Dry Brush, but it turned out to be fine after the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to shift the color palette to a warmer feel. Then Corel Master Elite Melissa Gallo’s texture called May Garden was applied and flipped (I was unable to find a recent link). A layer mask was added and the buildings were painted back. If you have Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Lab’s plug-in Texture Effects or the Adobe Paper Textures Pro free panel , both make it easy to try out different ones.

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Image of a Malaysian Tiger at the West Palm Beach ZooHere is a different image of my Malaysian Tiger buddie at the West Palm Beach Zoo. He looks pretty ferocious in this pose – as you know he was yawning in another image I posted. Since I was the only one around, I snapped away as he practiced. This was so much fun! Just used this regal pix to show you another way to use the workflow above to get a rather interesting look. Instead of using the filter on the tiger, this time it was applied to the background. First had to remove the tiger from the image by using the new Select and Mask panel in PS2015.5. This replaces the basic Refine Edge panel we are all used to and uses the Quick Select Tool inside the panel. To be honest it does a really good job, except PS crashed twice on me before I could get it to work, even with my new computer. I hope to do a tutorial on this soon as this new panel is really good. Next the workflow above was used on the original layer version of the image and this time the Artistic Watercolor filter was used (settings of Brush Detail 12, Shadow Intensity 3, and Texture 3). The cut-out tiger layer was placed above. Now the tiger did not have the filter applied, but the background did. Next Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened – since it is free, it feels just like Photoshop filters everyone can use them. The filters applied inside Color Efex Pro were: Monday Morning, Glamour Glow and Duplex with the orange color sampled. It gives his face a really soft feel and darkens the background with just a hint of the background which is what I wanted for this image. Used an Exposure Adjustment Layer to sharpen his eyes and nose and that was about it. Pretty simple!

Hope you try out the Photoshop’s filters – you don’t have to apply them to the whole image to get some really nice effects. And definitely open up those Nik plug-ins – these are some of the best Photoshop plug-ins around. See you next week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE LINEAR DODGE (ADD) & LINEAR BURN BLEND MODES ON IMAGE

Painted image of a Laughing Kookaburra at the West Palm Beach ZooThis week just presenting a short blog – still organizing in office. This technique is another simple way to dodge and burn an image using blend modes. I figure you cannot have too many different techniques for this  – some pictures just do better with one over another. (Check out Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs links at end for some other techniques.) The bird above is a Laughing Kookuburra taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo. He has some very beautiful colors in his feathers.

This technique I learned at a Photoshop World several years ago and am not sure who even presented it. It was just in my notes so I thought I would give it a try and got some really nice results! For the bird the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode really softened his head and the Linear Burn blend mode did a great job on darkening the feathers on his body.

The workflow is pretty simple:

  1. Duplicate the image twice after doing the basic color and tone corrections to the image.
  2. Add black layer masks to each layer by holding ALT key while clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon (rectangle with circle in center) at the bottom of the Layers Panel or by pressing CTRL+I in a white layer mask.
  3. Now on the top duplicate layer, change the blend mode to Linear Burn and name it Darken.
  4. On the layer underneath, change the blend mode to Linear Dodge (Add) and name it Lighten.
  5. Using a soft round brush set the Options Bar Opacity to 9% and Flow 55%.
  6. On the Lighten layer mask paint in white over areas to brighten. Do same for Darken layer mask on areas to darken. Since the Opacity and Flow are set fairly low, it will be a build up effect to get just the amount needed.

It is a very easy way to add a little color and/or focus to different parts of your image. If the effect is too strong, just lower the layer opacity. Also, the Linear Dodge (Add) blend mode could be used as a spotlight effect to fill darker areas with some soft light.

Just to let you know what is happening here with this blend mode, here are the blend mode explanations according to Lesa Snider of in her Photoshop CS6 – the Missing Manual book (an excellent book BTW):

Linear Dodge (Add) – “Lightens your images by increasing its brightness. It is a combo of Screen and Color Dodge modes, so it lightens images more than any other blend mode. But since it tends to turn all light colors white, it can make an image look unnatural.”

Linear Burn – “In this mode (which is actually a combination of Multiply and Color Burn), Photoshop darkens your image by decreasing its brightness. Linear Burn produces the darkest colors of any Darken blend mode, though with a bit more contrast than the others. It has a tendency to turn dark pixels solid black, which makes it ideal for grungy, textured collages…”

From this it is apparent that Linear Dodge (Add) can make an image look unnatural so take care when using it. And Linear Burn can give a grungy effect so watch the results of this. Therefore if your image does not look quite right, try changing the layer blend modes to Screen or Color Dodge for the Lighten layer, and Multiply or Darken blend modes on the Darken layer. Experimenting with blend modes can give some great effects! Image of a Dragonhunter bug on flowerThis image is of a Dragonhunter bug (they like to eat Dragonflies) that was taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo and used this technique to bring out the wing patterns. Just painted areas to lighten and areas to darken. Used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 (now free) to add a slight vignette and the Sunlight filter to soften some of the bokeh effect that is a little too bright.

Hope you get a chance to try this little technique – pretty easy to do and can give some great results. See ya later!…..Digital Lady syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!
What Does the Difference Blend Mode Do?

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WHAT’S NEW IN TOPAZ IMPRESSION 2?

Image of two Flamingoes at the West Palm Beach Zoo in Florida.
Totally psyched that Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression updated their plug-in to Version 2. Know you will see lots about this on the internet, but I am enjoying using it so much I wanted to share some of my initial responses to the program. I am surprised how much more they added to what I considered already a fabulous program! The image above used the a Watercolor II preset with some changes created in version 1 and still works great in the newer version. I call it SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset and can be downloaded in the Community Library. (For more info on post-processing on all images, check out the end of blog – this will give you a feel how many different filters and plug-ins can work together to get these effects.) If you own Topaz Impression version 1, this update is free!!! Best deal around – all of Topaz Labs’s plug-in updates are always free once you own it!

What’s New?

  • It is now much more similar to Topaz Texture Effects, which started out with this new interface that includes a Community where you can download presets when something different is needed. This has totally hooked me on Texture Effects, so the possibilities are endless as the Impression Community of presets are added.
  • According to Denise over at the Topaz Labs blog, there are now over 30 new loaded presets plus those that will be available in the Community library. And the layers can now be set to all the Blend Modes inside the plug-in.
  • New sliders and buttons have been added to the Stroke section – Number of strokes, Large Brush Volume to adjust large areas of color, and Rotation Variation to add randomness to the stroke effects; and in the Lighting section – new Highlight and Shadow sliders.
  • My favorite new feature is the Masking section where there are four different masks with different sliders to make your image totally unique. According to Topaz Labs:
    • The Spot Mask – Create a soft vignette effect, a subtle transition. It is somewhat like the Radial Filter in Lightroom or the Camera Raw filter.
    • The Color Mask – Uses color value differences to create a mask that is great for images clearly defined by color edges.
    • The Luminosity Mask – Uses luminosity values to determine edges for the mask and create it. It create detailed effects on light sources and glowing parts of image.
    • The Brush Mask – Can brush the effect in and out, and touch up edges around your subject. Use the Color Aware tool to create a clean mask along edges of your subject. This is a wonderful way to add detail to your Focal Point of your image.

It appears that only one Mask can be used for each Impression layer. I particularly like this Brush tab to remove the painterly effect and enhance the detail in your focal point. The large Mask window is very useful to see what is being affected in your image. Wonderful effects can be achieved in this section!

Image of Cityplace restaurant in West Palm BeachThis image of a restaurant located in the Cityplace shopping area of West Palm Beach used the Modern Urban Street Art III preset to get this very modern sketchy feel. (Changed the texture to Grass Patchy set to Texture Strength 0.89, Texture Size 1.00, and Texture Color of Red 255/Green 238/Blue 174).) In this case once the preset was applied, the layer was duplicated. The first layer was set to Color Dodge at 100% opacity and the second layer was set to Divide at 77% layer opacity. Layer masks were added and a few areas that did not look correct were lightly painted out with a soft black brush. This combination worked nicely on this image to give a real Florida look to the image. See Image 2 below for more post-processing info.

Image of a floral topiary of a birdAnother example of using this updated plug-in. This was a bird topiary of flowers at Cityplace in West Palm Beach – this was actually a fountain where suds had been introduced to the water. For some reason it felt right to add a slight painterly effect to give a wintry cool feeling. This image used one of Impression’s new presets, one which I really like, called Chalk Smudge. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool (white droplet) to remove areas looking too sharp (set to lower Strength). Opacity slider for all settings was set to 0.74 and to Normal blend mode. See Image 3 for more info.

As you can see, this update contains a lot of new things – some I have not fully explored. All-in-all, very nice update! For my version 1 review, check out my Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression blog. Once again the Topaz Labs group has done a wonderful job on their plug-in! I am sure I will be playing with this plug-in for days to come as the original was one of my favorite – now it is even better! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

POST PROCESSING INFO ON ABOVE IMAGES:

Image 1:  Duplicated the layer and entered the Topaz Impression 2 plug-in. Went to the Community tab and downloaded my SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset to apply this result. In a layer mask back in Photoshop, lightly painted back just the two foreground flamingos to bring back a little bit of detail to the birds. Next used a blender brush on a New Layer to  clean up a little bit of the messiness caused by the painterly preset from Impression 2. Used another New Layer to add a little line delineation on the trees. Created a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and took the layer into Topaz Black & White Effects. (Used my SJ Old Fountain preset.  Settings included: Conversion Basic Exposure: Contrast 0.02, Brightness 0, Boost Blacks 0.06, Boost Whites 0.00; Adaptive Exposure: 0.30, Regions 8, Protect Highlights -0.05, Protect Shadows 0.00, Detail 2.00, Detail Boost 1.00, and check Process Details Independently; Finishing Touches: Silver and Paper Tone: Tonal Strength 0.20, Balance 0, Silver Hue 32.00, Silver Tone Strength 0.50, Paper Hue 32.00, and Paper Tone Strength 0.15; Quad Tone: Color 1 Region 0.00 set to R0/G0/B0, Color 2 Region 142.5 set to R75/G78/B96, Color 3 Region 228.0 set to R222/G220/B172; and Color Region 4 255.0 set to R255/G255/B255; Border – Type Solid Black Size 0.46; Edge Exposure Left and Right Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.17, and Edge Transition 0.20; and Top and Bottom Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.40, and Edge Transition 0.20; Vignette: Strength -0.47, Size 0.85, Transition 0.61, and Curvature 0.54; and Transparency to 1.00; and in Local Adjustment used the Burn tool to darken the background, Color on the Bird, and Dodge on the trees to enhance where the lines of the trees were.) On a new stamped layer opened Topaz Texture Effects (Used SJ Crisp Morning Run Modified preset – Texture: changed to bright turquoise texture (halfway down on right column) with Opacity set to 0.29; Vignette – Strength 0.60 and Size 0.53 with Color centered on between bird and trees; in Mask painted back the bird and a little bit of light in trees and background behind bird – used Strength of 39 and Hardness of 20 using black.) In a layer mask and the Gradient Tool selected, a black to white gradient was created from top to bottom to darken the upper edges a little. Image 1 is the final result.

Image 2:  This image was difficult to clean up – first the Adaptive Wide Angle filter was used in PS to straighten the walls somewhat. Then the open areas that resulted were cleaned up with the the clone brush. Next the Topaz Impression 2’s Modern Urban Street Art III preset was applied and the plug-in was exited. The layer was duplicated and said before, the first layer was set to Color Dodge blend mode at 100% layer opacity and the second layer was set to Divide blend mode at 77% layer mode. A little clean up was done on another layer and finally on a stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to bring in the focal area a little – located where the foreground grouping of chairs on the sidewalk. On another stamped layer a Camera Raw filter Radial filter was used to lighten the left side of the image and darkening the right side a little. A little painting was done on a New Layer and the last step was to use a Curves Adjustment Layer to average out the tone.

Image 3: So what was done in this image to get a really surreal effect? First Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the flowers only (used black mask and painted back only flowers). One of my Corel Painter textures called SJ Beach Scene was used to add a brownish foreground and a light bluish sky. Another one of my textures called SJ Forest and Plains was placed on top to add the wave or outer space feel in the upper left corner especially – it was set to Luminosity blend mode at 79% layer opacity. The background was copied and placed on top – the top part of image was selected and placed in a layer mask so the people and cars in the area were removed. Then several layers were about used to clone out and clean up image areas. On another New Layer, a basic small snow brush was used to add the wintry feel to the sky. A stamped layer was created and Topaz Lens Effects was opened where the Graduated Neutral Filter was selected and set to the Graduated bottom half 2 stops preset. On another stamped layer, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to – Flypapers Fly Book & Skull Preset was applied (this contained the Glamour Glow, Reflector Efex, Film Efex: Vintage, and Cross Processing filters). Another stamped layer was created and finally Topaz Impression 2 was opened where the Chalk Smudge Preset was used. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool to remove areas looking too sharp (set Eraser brush to lower Strength). Opacity slider was set to 0.74 to Normal blend mode. The birds floral eye was worked on next. The Liquify Tool was used to increase the size of the eye and an Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to make it stand out a little. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog.) A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was added to blend image a little better. (See my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) On a stamped layer Lucis Pro was used to further blend the sky in a little nicer. (Settings used are Enhance Red Channel 175/Green Channel 195/Blue Channel 149 and Assign Original  Image Color set to (0% Processed /100% Original.) (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.) On a New Layer Grut’s FX Cloud Gumbo 01a brush was used to fill in the water to look like built up snow. (These brushes are terrific and very handy for image clean up!) A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to a light beige – it was set to Color Blend Mode at 57%. It made the statue look a little better and the red flowers less saturated – painted out the sky so it was not affected. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to reduce the overall tone just a little. This was a huge workflow, but you can see how the Impression plug-in works very nicely with many of the filters from both Topaz and other vendors.


HOW TO CREATE AN ILLUSTRATIVE TEXTURED IMAGE FROM A PHOTO

Image of a Palm TreeThis week I am going to just show a couple tricks about how to get this more illustrative look and how to use an overlay from a texture to get a nice effect. This is a beautiful Palm Tree that was growing in West Palm Beach at the hotel. It had a really green background and detail that was making it hard to separate the tree out. So this is how I got what I consider a rather nice effect.

So I am going over the basic workflow which was used on both this image and the foxes image below. Most of these steps I have covered in recent blogs on how to do them so I will direct you to them if you need to refer back.

    1. This image was adjusted using Adobe Camera Raw – just changed several Basic sliders. Lightroom was used in the second image changing only the DeHaze, Highlight and Shadow sliders and removing a little Noise.
    2. In Photoshop the bottom layer was duplicated by clicking CTRL+J (if opened as a Smart Object, which preserves your ACR settings as with the image above, need to  right click on the top layer and select Rasterize Layer to remove the Smart Object).
    3. This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail was used on the top image and Topaz Clarity on the bottom layer to just sharpen up the details. Any sharpening method works fine but start with a sharp image and remove the detail later if needed. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3 blog and my More Clarity on Topaz Clarity blog.)
    4. The Foxes can easily be removed from their distracting background, so at this point Topaz ReMask 5 was used, but any selection tool would have worked fine. (Try using the Quick Selection Tool, Magic Wand, or  Quick Mask with the Refine Edge Command.) This  would have been an impossible task with the Palm Tree image at this point. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is? blog.)
    5. Next the free JixiPix Spectrel Art was used on both images. The Palm Tree used the Dark Edges preset and the background was painted out using the Erase Brush in the plug-in. For the Foxes, the Topaz ReMask layer is opened in Spectrel Art and Dark Lines preset was used. Those two presets seem to be my favorites. Both image were set to Screen blend mode on this layer in Photoshop. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-In.)
    6. Now the newly free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 is used on both images. The Palm Tree used these 4 stacked filters: Film Efex: Vintage using Film Type 6, Glamour Glow, Lighten/Darken Center, and Color Set Monday Morning using Neutral. This gave the image a bit of nice glow in the image. The Fox image used the same first three filters (Film Efex: Vintage used Color Set 14) but the last one used Detail Extractor set to 20%. ( See my Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Nik Color Efex Pro 4!)
    7. Now clean up layers were used on both images. For the Palm Tree, a New Layer was created and just sampled the background area and painted around where the distractions were. Brush used was a free brush from Ditlev Fine Art Br Vol1-SB 6 13 – nice texture at a lower flow and just built up the effect so it looks somewhat painterly around the tree fronds. For the Foxes, used a chalk brush at very low opacity to reduce lines that were distracting and emphasized the head of the foxes which is the focal point.
    8. Now the overlays are used. For the Palm Trees, the French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Artiste Bold Brush 2 texture was opened in another document. By going to Select Color and choosing Highlights and the check the Invert checkbox, a selection of only the color was created. Close the dialog and add a layer mask to the layer and the whites will be deleted from the image. I recommend using a texture with lots of grain and color to get an interesting overlay look. Now this layer can be saved as a PNG file to be used again. It was placed into the Palm Tree file and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between layers) to get the light turquoise color on the overlay. The layer opacity was set to 74%. This is one of my favorite overlays – I like for my image to show through better and it does not require a blend mode which can change the colors or the light values in the image. A layer mask was used to lightly remove some of the texture off the Palm Trees. The Foxes used the exact same process – this time two different textures were used from 2 Little Owl’s Studios (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link): Stained Glass 14 with the Highlights removed in Select Color at 32% layer opacity; and Starry Night 5 which used only the darker areas and was set to 84% layer opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.)
    9. Now an extra step occurred in the Foxes image, mainly some lightening and darkening Curves Adjustment layers to differentiate the right fox head from the back of the left fox. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.)
    10. Next Topaz Lens Effects was applied to both images where the Reflector filter using a Gold preset – this directed the lighted the light from a certain direction to give both images a warmer feeling. Just fiddle with the sliders until it looks good. If you do not have the plug-in, use Camera Raw Filter’s Radial Filter and add a touch of yellow Temperature and a little Exposure and make a big circle half off the image to warm up a side a little bit. (See my Topaz Lens Effects for Some Image Fun! blog.)
    11. New Layers were created in both images and just a little speckle brush was used to paint in around the trees and foxes to give a more painterly effect. The layer opacity was set to 60% so as not to look too fake.
    12. For the Fox image, a final step of adding French Kiss’s Sponged Edge border overlay to further give a little painter effect to the border. A Gradient Adjustment Layer was clipped to it that contained a warm orange to a gold gradient. The Gradient Adjustment Layer opacity was set to 36% and the Border was set to 35% layer opacity. Very subtle.

Image of sleeping Fennoc FoxesThese little Fennec Foxes were taking a snooze at the West Palm Beach Zoo on a sunny day. I was trying to give the impression that they were having wonderful dreams. I know the workflow above is a little extensive, and there are several different ways you can improve upon the effect. Still, I personally like that part photo – part illustrative look you can achieve with the various filters. And most can be reproduced with Photoshop and free plug-ins. Of course I am still a big Topaz fan, but there are always other ways to get a similar look.

One of the things I hope you try is Step 8 above. If you have some favorite textures, try removing a color out of them or highlights or shadows – this can really give a unique feel to an image and I do prefer a good PNG file over a JPG texture many times. Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO COMPARE HISTORY STATES AS DOCUMENTS

Since my scheduled blog is not quite ready, I am posting one I did previously on my Tidbits Blog. It is a tip I find personally very useful, especially when painting and I want to see what my original image (history state) appeared. I am finding this especially helpful when adding highlights and shadows to areas that are not obvious they needed a little extra attention. So here we go with an “oldie-but goodie” from a few years ago.

Well once again I learned another little tidbit this week that really surprised me because basically I had never thought about it! Photoshop allows you to create a document from an earlier History State by just clicking a state you want to look at again, and dragging it down to the bottom of the History Panel’s left icon called “Create New Document from current State.” It will open up another window with the image as it appears in the older state. Below is an example of a photo I am currently adjusting where a Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Adjust Portrait Drama preset was applied (I know it is a landscape type image but it works!) and then a Nik Color Efex Pro Tonal Contrast filter was applied next. I wanted to compare the later combined filter state to the earlier Topaz Adjust only state. Pretty cool, huh? There are those times when you just need to compare something you did before and this is perfect! Remember though, that you lose your History States when you close out of Photoshop so save that extra window if you want to keep the image for comparison.

This is me back again. Also, by setting up your window to be tiled like above, you can zoom in to the same area at the same amount by following these quick steps.  Go to Windows -> Arrange -> Tile and then Windows -> Arrange -> Match All. Choose the Hand Tool (also can use the SPACEBAR to active the Hand Tool) or the Zoom Tool (CTRL or ALT+SPACEBAR), hold down the SHIFT key and click in or drag an area in one of the images. The other image is magnified to the same percentage and snapped to the area you clicked. Usually I do not need this all the time, but sometimes it is helpful to zoom in on an area. Below is an example of how I am using the windows feature for painting – the smaller image that was set to the original state of the image when opened was set to Float to Window and the zoomed in image was still set as tabbed in Photoshop. They are two different documents still and the small one can be enlarged at any time.

Hope this was something you can use. Later….Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO SAVE YOUR FONTS AS TOOL PRESETS

Painted image of a Rainbow Lorikeet birdThese are the happiest birds I have ever seen! There were several flying around a small aviary at the Jacksonville Zoo and seemed most so pleased to have their pictures taken. Lots of fun to visit with them! They also make wonderful paintings! (See end of blog for more photo info.)

This is a rather short post, but it addresses a little problem I discovered when trying to use my favorite fonts saved as Tool Presets. Since I covered the Tool Presets in a recent blog (see Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!), and I consider them so extremely useful, this week I will show you how to save your favorite fonts and settings. For some reason it is a little tricky to add them to your documents, so the following screenshots have been created to give you a little heads up on how to do it.

For starters, what the Text Tool Preset will do is allow you to use the exact settings used in a previous Text layer or document – all the Options Bar settings will be retained including color. This is the same concept that works with almost all tools used in Photoshop.

      1. First need to save your Font as a Tool Preset by selecting it in the Options Bar and all the other favorite settings.  It is located using the 1st icon on the Options Bar and then click on little down arrow for saved preset choices. See screenshot below. Note that this font can be saved several times using different Font sizes or colors for example. Anything that can be adjusted in the Options Bar will be saved in the Text Tool Preset. There are no Text Presets fonts saved. The Current Tool Only check box is checked. Only Text Tool Presets will be listed in this panel when the Text Tool is chosen.

Screenshot of Type Font being saved

      2. By clicking on the lower icon that looks like a paper with the corner folded up, a new Text Tool Preset can be created. The Screenshot below shows the dialog that opens with a default name. If you like it, say OK – if not, name it the way that you want and say OK. Often I will use a name to indicate where I use this font, like for a logo.

Screenshot image of New Tool Preset dialog

      3. In the Screenshot below, the Text Font has now been added to the Panel so it can be used again.

Screenshot image of Text Preset Panel with new font added

      4. To apply the Text Tool Preset, use this order. First select the Text Tool in the Tool Panel (formerly Toolbox) – do not click in the image. Instead open the Tool Preset Panel and choose the recently added font. A new Text Layer with the same settings will be created as seen below in the bottom text. If you select the Text Tool and click in the document, the Text Tool preset cannot be opened and all the settings will have to be reselected in the Options Bar.

Image wtih font applied using the Text Preset Tool If a Layer Style is used on the font, it will not be saved down with the Tool Preset – must create or use a saved Style Preset on layer after adding text. The original image shows two different fonts and two different layer styles applied to each. A lot of really cool effects can be created by mixing up the layer styles that can be added to the text layers just like regular layers. To open up the Layer Styles Panel, just double click on the layer. There is also a Styles section that has many effects already set up and can be loaded from this panel. (I will try to blog on this soon.)

Note that if you do not have many presets loaded in the Tool Preset Panel, many people will leave it open on their desktop. It is a quick way to switch between tools without having to select them in the Tool Panel or using a keyboard shortcut.

Hope this has been helpful to you – just short and sweet this week. See ya next time!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info:  There was a lot that went into the creating of this image. Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link in sidebar) ReMask 5 was used to remove the bird from the image. He was standing on a branch, so all that had to painted over in additional New Layers. that Two of my Corel Painter backgrounds were placed underneath the ReStyle Layer – one set to Normal at 100% layer opacity and one set to Color Burn blend mode at 62% layer opacity. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and now the total painting and blending of the image could be done. Another one of my textures was added and set to Overlay blend mode at 33% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Golden Reflector was applied to warm up the right side of the image. Several layers were added and different Mixer brushes used to fill in the background and foreground areas. Exposure Adjustment Layers were used for eye, upper beak, and lower beak. A Nik Viveza 2 filter was used to drive the focal point home and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were applied (Ink, Film Efex Vintage, and Darken/Lighten Center). A Levels Adjustment Layer was used as a last step to add back a little contrast.


CREATING WINTER WONDERLAND EFFECT!

Image of a wintry landscape with deerThis week turned out to be a little strange as my prepared blog needs some permission clarification before posting. Therefore, I decided to pay tribute to my kids and friends up north who were blanketed with over 20 inches of snow. I found this beautiful free stock image on pixabay (original image linked) and added my own touch to it. The deer that is photo bombing the image was supposed to go in the background, but he just so looked so natural in that spot, so that’s where he remains.

Here is a quick run down of how I achieved this sort of old-fashioned look. In Lightroom Trey’s Free Packs A Beautiful Release (from Jan 2015) preset was applied to the original downloaded image – an Adjustment Brush was used to paint the blue color out of the trees from the gradient in the preset.  In Photoshop Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was opened where a Basic Tone Preset by Blake Rudis (here are the settings: Micro Contrast 0.13, Low Contrast 0.28, Medium Contrast 0.16, and High Contrast 0.26) was selected. A black layer mask was added once out of the plug-in and just the center area of the image where the creek turns was painted back for more detail. A New Layer set to Overlay blend mode and a soft round black brush set to 12% opacity was used to burn in a little contrast in the tops of the short trees in the middle. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) A Curves Adjustment Layer was put on top. A stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and the Nik Viveza 2 plug-in was opened to adjust the color tone in the center and soften the outer trees. On another stamped layer Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters were stacked: Midnight Neutral at 67% opacity, Reflector Efex Silver to add light from the left, and Vignette Blur using Shape 2 and Type 1. This is when I got the great idea to add a deer – this little beauty is an image from Tara Lesher that she graciously let people use.  The deer was removed from it’s background using Topaz ReMask 5 and placed in this image. Two Exposure Adjustments Layers were used to sharpen the eyes and the nose. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog.) Two free snow overlays were added: one by Shadowhouse Creations called Snow Overlay 11 set to Screen blend mode at 74% layer opacity, and one by me called SJ-Snow2-Overlay-slightly blurred, which is a png file, set to 20% layer opacity. Last step was to add Kim Klassen’s Downtown Collection Edith texture (unfortunately I do not believe her textures are available anymore, but 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website) has some very similar vintage effect textures) on top set to Overlay at 50% layer opacity. And that is my winter wonderland image.

Image of wintry landscape with a barnHere is another wonderful wintry landscape from pixabay. Just screamed HDR effect to me, although it really is more of an illustrative look. This image used another Trey Radcliff’s free Lightroom preset in the package linked above called Xmas Pants Asunder. That is about all that was done to the image in Lightroom. The background was duplicated (CTRL+J) and Photoshop’s Oil Paint Filter was applied. I usually do not use this filter as it looks so canned, but it does one thing really good – it makes snow look fabulous! Also always set as a Smart Object (Smart Filter) so you can go back in and adjust the settings if the effect gets “over-the-top.” (Here are the settings: Stylization 0.8, Cleanliness 8.3, Scale 0.99, Bristle Detail 9.5, Angular Direction -151, and Shine 1.5 – remember to adjust them if the resolution of you image is very high or low.) The trick is not to use too much Shine, but if you do need it stronger, just paint out the areas that have too much striping effect going on in the filter mask. In this image, some of the snow had a little strip-look going on and it was painted out with a black brush in the mask. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened up as a Smart Object and three filters were stacked: Tonal Contrast using Balanced Contrast Type, Darken/Lighten Center using Shape 2 and centering effect on the barn, and Vignette Filter using Shape 2 – sampled a whitish color from the image and set the Opacity slider to 81%. Nik Viveza 2 was used to draw focus to the main little building in the front. My SJ Snow1 Overlay from same link as above was added on top and set to 20% layer opacity.

These were just some very easy winter looks that can be added to give your winter shots a very unique feel. Do try out the Oil Paint Filter on snow – the settings I used worked pretty well on a couple of different images I did. Also check out pixabay if you need a new image to work with – they have a great assortment of free stock images. Stay warm until next time!…..Digital Lady Syd


MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Holiday Image with a Laughing KookaburraThis week I am just doing a short blog and taking a few weeks off – been blogging for 5 years without missing a week, and am updating to a better computer. As great as it is to get a new computer, it is hard not to anticipate some issues! This beautiful bird is a Laughing Kookaburra whose image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Basically this image used my regular workflow for painted birds. Used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReMask 5 to separate him out from his background and then applying the resulting layer mask. In Photoshop my own Corel Painter texture was placed below. In this case the texture was duplicated and set to Vivid Light blend mode. (The halftone effect was painted on a separate layer in PS when creating the texture.) In the Layer Style dialog (double click on the layer), the Blend If This Layer’s Black tab was split (ALT+drag apart) and set to 0/94, and the Underlying Layer White Tab was split and set to 84/129. The bird was painted above blending the edges of the texture into his feathers. An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to enhance the eye before painting it. The nice Christmas greeting is a freebie from a scrapbook site using G&T Designs Card Topper 02. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Nik’s Color Effects Pro 4 plug-in was opened and 4 filters were added – Cross Processing, Levels & Curves, Graduated Neutral Density, and Classical Soft Focus. My free SJ Snow 2 Overlay was placed on top and set to 45% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the focal point. And obviously some clean up was done.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! …..Digital Lady Syd


GETTING BACK TO PLAYING IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of a small girl in her Native American CostumeSince I had a pretty busy week with company, just thought I would post a couple images. This one is of a beautiful little girl who was dancing with the adults at the Native American Festival earlier this year. Totally enjoyed the event once again! For this image a selection was used to remove her from the background (used Photoshop’s Color Range and then cleaned up the resulting layer mask) and next ReFine Edge to fine-tune the feathers (set Radius to 7.2 and Shift slider to -3). Painted Textures Spring Rain texture was placed over the image and a layer mask was added to paint in the little girl. Photoshop’s Flat Fan Thick Stiff Wet Edge brush (located in Photoshop’s Wet Media Brushes group) was used to do this and to paint on several additional New Layers. A smaller sized Mixer brush was used to smooth the facial skin hard edges. The last step used Nik’s Viveza 2 with a control point placed on the little girl to make her pop out a bit from the background and 6 other control points to adjust the coloring to look just right.

I know that Corel Painter does a fabulous job on painting images, and I am working hard on learning it, but sometimes I like a more realistic painted feel by using Photoshop and its Regular and Mixer brushes on different layers as shown above.

Image of water lilies taken at Epcot, Disney World-OrlandoThis is an image taken from the Living With the Land ride at Epcot, Disney World Orlando. Just enjoyed playing with different filters to see if I could make it into something I liked. No painting here. In Lightroom used Seim’s (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) PW4 Magic Portrait preset and actually went into the Lens Correction Manual and changed the Distortion, Vertical Horizontal and Aspect sliders which resulted in some extra white space on the left side and bottom of the image. Next opened up the image in Photoshop CC 2014 with the new advanced Content-Aware Fill command which did a wonderful job of adding into this area of the image. I do not usually use this version since the regular CC still lets me use my flash panels. Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3 was opened and my SJ Text preset was added. (These are the settings: Overall Detail – Small Details0.08, Medium Details 0.20, and Large Details 0.08; Tone Exposure -0.60, Contrast 0.25, Highlights 0.10, Shadows 0.05, Whites 0.10, and Blacks 0.05; and Color Temperature 0.10, Tint 0.03, and Saturation 0.10.) On a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer, the Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were used: Midnight using a Neutral Color Set at 93% opacity, Darken/Lighten Center at 59% opacity, and Detail Extraction with Detail Extraction slider at 65% and control points set on each of the flowers only. I liked what I was seeing at this point but still decided to do some more changes. Several clean up layers were added and then Nik Viveza 2 was opened up to add some extra contrast to the flowers. Next my free Cat Painting Canvas was set to Overlay blend mode on a layer above. And just because I could, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Dark Goldenrod preset was added with no changes. The tone in the image turned out to be just right. A text layer was added using a font called Ruthie and set to Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow layer style. It was 27% layer opacity.

It was fun to just play in Photoshop for a change. It seems that there is so much to learn that it is easy to forget to create and have fun. Until next week, have a good one creating!……Digital Lady Syd


Native American Beauty

This week I decided to just display a few of the beautiful images I got from the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida this past January. If you get a chance to go to a Native American event, it is a great place to photograph unusual items and the colors are wonderful! This headdress was one of the most beautiful things I saw.  Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3’s Overall Strong II preset was applied first. Topaz Simplify’s BuzSim preset was applied to a duplicate layer. With a soft black brush on an added layer mask, the edges of the feathers were painted back in showing the layer below. A composite layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and Topaz Adjust 5’s French Countryside preset was selected. The layer mask for the Simplify layer was copied by highlighting it – press ALT and drag it up to the Adjust layer. Next Kim Klassen‘s texture 1612 (beautiful texture that was free by signing up for her newsletter) was left to Normal blend mode at 89%, but a layer mask was applied to the texture and the center painted out to clear out the middle. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to lighten the image up just a little. A New Layer was added to burn in and define some of the feather edges where they overlap in the image. (See my Fun Photoshop Blog The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! for more information on how to do this.) The last step involved adding my free SJ Painter Oil Frame to the image with a Bevel and Emboss Layer style (check Texture and set Scale 100% and Depth +79} – used my SJ Smudge Texture set to grayscale for a pattern, but any gray and white pattern would be fine). The frame was set to 72% opacity.
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These Rawhide Rattles are something I do not ever remember seeing before. One of the vendor’s had this assortment for sale. The image was first processed in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using three filters stacked: Detail Extractor, Midnight set to Neutral Color Set and Opacity of 67%, and Monday Morning using Sepia Color Set at 80% opacity – kind of an unusual group. 2 Lil’ Owls Workbook Bonus Texture 16 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was applied using Soft Light at 100% opacity. In the white layer mask, some of the detail was brought back on the left rattle. Basically that was all that was done to get this very antique look.
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This image of a Mexican Aztec dancer was a little difficult to process due the fact that there were a lot of distractions in the background, and his face was not real clear and needed a lot of clean up. The feathers in his headdress were so beautiful that I really wanted to process the image. Therefore, first the headdress was carefully extracted the Quick Selection Tool and Quick Mask Mode, and Shadowhouse Creations Rage Texture was placed behind him and set to Normal at 100% opacity. Topaz  Adjust 5’s Painting Venice preset and Topaz Detail 3’s Overall Detail Medium II preset were applied. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the Reds and Yellows in the image. A frame was added and set to a tan color.
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This was a wide assortment of Native American toys that were on a bright red tablecloth. I decided it would look better as a sketch with toned down colors. In Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to make the image overexposed. Topaz Simplify 4 was added and a preset was created using a painting preset as a starting point and Quad Tones of Black/Deep Red/Gold/Light Yellow tones were applied at a Tone Strength of .57. An Overall Transparency of .31 was applied. I ran Simplify 4 again on a duplicate background layer and this time applied a light black and white preset. Back in Photoshop it was stacked it on top of the first Simplify layer and set to Soft Light.  A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed on top where Reds Saturation was set to -41 to desaturate the color slightly. Kim Klassen’s Mary texture was applied using Normal Blend Mode and just painting out the center of the texture in a layer mask. As a last step, a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied using the Auto button to even out the colors and contrast. I think it gives a really nice sketch look and is appropriate for the various types of objects that were being displayed.
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These are feather headbands that were also being sold by a vendor. This is a funny story as I would never have used these settings if not for some spam I received from a comment that referenced how he added texture to his images. Here is the result I got from following some of the process. First Topaz Adjust 5’s Spicify preset was applied at 83% opacity. Next apply Topaz Simplify 4’s Watercolor II preset. Changed image to an 8-bit mode and went to Filter -> Stylize ->Diffuse Filter and selected anisotropic. Exit filter and rotate document -90 degrees counter clockwise using Free Transform (CTRL+T). Apply same filter again. Exit and rotate image clockwise +90. Apply the filter for a third time. Now go to Filters -> Texture -> Texturizer and set texture to Canvas, Scaling 200%, Relief 7, and Lighting Top. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level was applied increasing the saturation to +30 and a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to increase contrast. Kind of a strange technique but I really liked the results.

I hope you enjoyed these images – nice to do something a little different. Have a nice week!…..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


Turning the Old into the New

Recently I have read about several people who have gone back and revisited some of their images they took many years ago before all the new technology, especially the Camera Raw technology, was created. So in this blog I decided to give it a try. The image above was originally photographed in June of 2003 with my 2 mg Casio QV-2900 UX Digital Camera – my first digital camera. I love the new look of these timeless Tamora Roses, possibly my favorite flower ever – it was always so nice to see them growing in my yard in Virginia after a long day at work and they smell fabulous! For all the blog original images and info on how they were processed, see the bottom of the post.
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I have been doing digital photography since 1998 when the Engineering Office I was working for decided to purchase a 1.3 mg Sony Digital Camera that saved images down onto a 3-inch disk. And this camera was expensive – I think it was over $600 when we bought it. That is when I learned to use Adobe Photo Deluxe, a precursor to Elements. I brought the camera home for a few family pix and I was hooked. The original image above was from my first batch of personal photos and was 40.7 KB in size! Not my favorite picture, but it was pretty cool to see what can be done with it now and a nice reminder of my salt water aquarium I used to maintain.
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This is just a simple snow image of a small bridge on Royal Lake near my old home in Fairfax, Virginia, and taken using my Casio camera again in the winter of 2003 – I actually like the original as well but it was fun to see what the new plug-ins can do on an image. Glad I do not have to deal with the snow anymore! This little 2 mg camera took some great images and I really put it through it’s paces back then.
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Just having fun with this beautiful yellow rose that also grew in my yard in Virginia. All the new textures that are available make it hard to choose a look! This was also taken with my old Casio.
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This is what my backyard looked like in April with all these aged Azaleas in bloom – definitely looked like a fairy garden! I really miss Virginia in the Spring! Actually you can see below what the real color of these flowers are – still beautiful – like both images.

Here is a tych I created from last week’s blog (see Using a Tych Panel to Show Off Your Images of my original images. Quite a difference!

If you have some older images that you really loved but just did not have the total feel you wanted, try reopening them up in Photoshop and applying some of the new techniques, textures and filters. This turned out to be a lot of fun for this rather boring time of year. Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Processing steps for each image:

Image 1: These flowers are actually a tangerine color – yellow inside and pink tinge on the outside. In Lightroom the image was cropped, and Basic panel sliders were adjusted, then with an Adjustment Brush the center of the big flower was sharpened and clarity added just a little. Once in Photoshop the background was duplicated and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Simplify 4’s Watercolor II preset was applied set to 90% layer opacity. A composite layer was created (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was applied to make the flower more pink (Yellows: Yellow -52%; Greens: Cyan -19, Magenta +56, Yellow -2, and Black +7; and Neutrals: Cyan and Magenta  0, Yellow -16, and Black -10). Next Melissa Gallo Painted Textures Winter Wheat was added and set to Hard Light blend mode at 100% opacity. I discovered that 2 Lil’ Owls Bonus Texture 4 created a great painterly looking frame – I created a PNG file of just the frame by following the steps in my blog How To Make Frames or Borders – scroll down to the section called “To save the frame you created as an overlay to use again.” A very light pink Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+ click between the layers). A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels changed to 33/255 to give a light hazy look to the image. In the layer mask, the main flower center was lightly painted in black to remove the haze. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to remove a bluish cast in the bottom of the image (Saturation -56 and Lightness +57).

Image 2: After applying a few Basic Panel changes in Lightroom and doing an OnOne (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Perfect Resize to change the image size to 6 inches X 4.5 inches from 2 inches X 1.5 inches, I could work on the image. To get the above result, Topaz DeNoise 3 was applied using their strongest JPEG preset and then adjusting the Overall slider to 0.27 and no Recover Detail. Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Highlights Detail IV preset. Then I went into Topaz Simplify 4 and added the Painting Tone IV preset changing the Size to 0.18, Saturation to 1.83, Saturation Boost to 1.42 and Dynamics (my favorite slider in Topaz is in Simplify also) to .31. I was able to get a bit of a texture in the image by applying Kim Klassen Cafe‘s free Sunkissed texture (sign up for her newsletter to get lots of beautiful textures) with a Bevel and Emboss layer style added where Texture was checked – used my free SJ Smudge Texture as a texture (which is really a pattern) to the image at 100%, and in the Bevel & Emboss dialog, I unchecked the Global Light box, changed the Size to 0, Highlight Mode Opacity to 85% and the Shadow Mode Opacity to 69%. (To create a pattern from a texture, just open the texture up in Photoshop and go to Edit -> Define Pattern and it will appear at the bottom of your patterns list.)  A light gray Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip the color to layer) to the texture layer. To add the painterly frame, my free SJ Painter Oil Frame (that I created this week in Painter) was added and the same Layer Style was added (hold down ALT+drag the one on the texture to copy to the frame layer). A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and that was it. I think it really has a painterly feel.

Image 3: This image was cropped in Lightroom and in the Basic Panel the Clarity, Vibrance, Contrast, Shadows, Highlights, and Exposure sliders were adjusted along with the Sharpening slider. In Photoshop Topaz photoFXlabs was opened and Topaz Adjust’s French Countryside was applied. Back in photoFXlab the Adjustments tab, my favorite Dynamics slider was set to 48. My free SJ Snow 2 Overlay-slight blur was applied at 73% opacity. Next my free SJ Painter Oil Frame (see download link Image 2 info) was applied at 69% opacity. On top of that French Kiss Artiste Collections grayish Northern Skies texture was added and set to Vivid Light at 41% opacity. By putting the texture over the frame also, it gives the canvas feel to the white frame. A slight S-shaped curve was added using a Curves Adjustment Layer.

Image 4: Basically this image was sharpened using Topaz Detail 3 Feature Enhancement II preset; Nik Color Efex Pro 4‘s stacking Film Efex Vintage using filters Film Type 16 and the Opacity slider set to 0 – that is because a Control Point had been placed just on the yellow flower, Darken/Lighten Center, and White Neutralize with a green Color selected; and adding 2 Lil’s Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Workbook Bonus Texture 13 (this is a soft smooth pink texture) set to 76% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture get the bluish tone for the background.

Image 5: To get this beautiful look, Nik Color Efex Pro 4’s Midnight filter set to Color Set Blue and White Neutralizer filter selecting a dark green color. Kim Klassen Cafe’s (see link in Image 2’s info) free unleashed texture was used, and once again I created a PNG following my Overlays blog steps (follow the steps in my blog How To Make Frames or Borders – scroll down to the section called “To save the frame you created as an overlay to use again”) and then clipped (ALT+click between the layers) a light gray Color Fill Adjustment Layer to it. That was it – really easy to do.

Image Tych: The background for the Tych was one from Kim Klassen free Texture Partings – I love the very soft subtle textures she creates!

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Digital Lady Syd’s Top Ten Photos From 2012

It is that time where I try to put some perspective on my images for the past year and choose the ones that appeal to me most. I had a nice year and got to see some pretty interesting places. I try to see which images I would place in my home. Here is what my “inner critic” thinks are some of my best.

10.  Below is an image shot while in the Lightner Museum looking down at my favorite lunch spot in St. Augustine, Florida, the Cafe Alcazar which is located in the old hotel pool area (see Bathing in Casino on Shorpys website for how the pool looked in 1889). For more info, see my Tidbits Blog Cafe Alcazar and Vintage Topaz Adjust.

9. I love this sort of illustrative and humorous effect. This image is of a whale taken during the Shamu show at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park. For details on processing, see my Storytelling with Your Images blog.

8. The Big Island in Hawaii was one of my most favorite places I have ever visited. This photo art image depicts how I think of Hawaii. I discuss how I created the effect in my Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect blog.

7. This lovely mallard duck pair’s image was taken at the SeaWorld Orlando Theme Park in Florida. This image used a texture by 2 Lil Owls and the new Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to bring out details and color, especially in the feathers and eyes.

6. This old corvette was for sale at the 39th Annual Turkey Run at the Daytona International Speedway infield. This is my favorite type of car –  so I had a great time photographing all the corvettes. (More will be showing up in my future blogs as I have a lot more corvette images.) To see how I processed this image, see my Little Red Corvette Tidbits Blog.

5.  Miniature Mums were used in a lot of my images this year. I like to photograph the flowers I grow. I have been trying to improve on my macro shooting  this year. To see how this flower was processed, see my Tidbit Blog Just Bloomin” Beautiful!

4. The wild surf is at Laupahoehoe Harbor on the Big Island. In my Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! blog I used this same image with an artistic feel to it. Nik Color Efex Pro’s Detail Extractor filter helped give this image the sharpness.

3. I am always surprised how nice the flower pictures are that I get at the local grocery stores with my inexpensive Kodak point-and-shoot camera. These beautiful pink roses were shot at my neighborhood store. Post processing included adding 4 textures – two I bought from French Kiss’s website and two from a wonderful Flickr site by Lenabem-Anna which contains many beautiful vintage and painterly textures. I used her textures 130 and 72.

2. The purple lily pad image is one of my artistic experiments that I really like. They were taken at the Hilton Waikoloa Village by the Japanese Restaurant. To see how this effect was created with a slightly different result, see my Tidbits Blog Purple Lily Pads!

1.  It is hard to top Hawaii for beautiful everything. I settled on this image from along the road to Waipio Valley as my favorite of the year since it totally reminds me of my trip to the Big Island – the bright sunlight, the beautiful surf and the gorgeous clouds hanging out. To see how I processed this image, see my Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem! blog.

It’s been a great year and I have learned so many new things about post-processing my images in Photoshop. Hope you have enjoyed some of my blogs too. I hope next year is as fun and productive. Happy New Year Everyone!…..Digital Lady Syd


Storytelling with Your Images

This is a topic I struggle with since it seems that most images that tell a good story are those of people – and it is hard for me to take people shots that are interesting. So I have been working on this. Several photographers have written about storytelling within an image. David duChemin, one of my favorite authors and photographers, has written several great books on photography including one called Within the Frame – the Journey of Photographic Vision where he discusses storytelling. Basically he states “….two aspects of storytelling come to mind. The first is the study of themes that tie the image to our deeper, more universal human experience. The second is conflict, revealed in the frame by contrasts.” Another important point David states is “….the more deeply they [the viewer of your image] care, the stronger the story.” I am no David duChemin when it comes to photography, but I have tried to represent some of his ideas in my blog this week.

The gentleman above just popped out at me when I was in Steak n Shake a few weeks ago. I can imagine all kinds of stories – like he sneaked out to get a nice treat, or he didn’t feel that great and this ice cream really cheered him up, or maybe he just felt like ice cream! Any way you look at it, I felt something when I looked at the older man and nostalgic Steak and Shake pictures – it made me want to take the photo. The image is a good example of both aspects of storytelling – I see a basic theme that most people understand as to whether we should be eating this kind of food (as in that never ending diet or health issues) and are we spending too much in order to enjoy one of life’s little pleasures. I can relate to this experience and conflict! The colors and pictures around him also played an important part in this image – black, white and red create a very strong color palette. (See end of blog for details on how each image was processed.)
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I thought this image is a good example of a story – the way the trainer seems to be interacting with one of the Killer Whales at SeaWorld-Orlando. Then my husband looked at the image and said it reminded him of “Jaws” – it is reminiscent of the tragic trainer accident with a whale a few years ago (see Tilikum Wikipedia link). Goes to show how each person creates a totally different scenario in their mind. But it does serve its purpose – it tells a story and makes you think! I see conflict in this image – the small trainer vs. the large whale, humor vs. drama, man vs. animal, texture of water vs. smoothness of the subjects – all implied opposites.
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Here is another image I thought had a story associated with it – people seem to enjoy the beach no matter what the weather is. Here is Ormond Beach, Florida, and a young lady is having fun just playing on the beach. It was major windy and overcast as Hurricane Sandy had just missed Florida and gone up the coast much earlier in the morning. (See this incredible aerial view slideshow of a blacked-out New York City after Hurricane Sandy came inland.) I tried to convey how large and out-of-control the waves were vs. the smallness of the young lady. There is the conflict of the rage of the water and lightheartedness of the girl. I believe the way the image is colored gives the water a foreboding feel while the young lady is still in summerlike attire. What was she seeing?
…..Now that there are so many good plugins available to help create an effect, it does make it easier to convey a story. This image has a nostalgic feeling even though this man was making Satay Chicken Wraps in London during Scott Kelby’s Photowalk of 2008 (several of my PhotoWalk images are shown at this site). I think the effect makes the story more obvious and interesting. I believe this photo makes you want to know more about the cook – how good is the meal he is preparing, does he like to cook, does he own the store, etc.
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John Paul Caponigro, who does gorgeous fine art photography, creates images with stories without people present. He has a lot of interesting photography links on his website including this excellent short article on Storytelling. (Become a member for free to download his many interesting articles.) He states in this article that single images have a beginning at the “point of visual entry.” A series of images begins with the first image, and follow with a middle and an ending, as any story has. “The frame sets the stage. So, set a scene. You can think of anything that enters it as an actor of an unfolding drama. Then, introduce your characters. There’s lots of room for creativity in how you do this. Next, develop a theme.” In the image below, I took advantage of this concept and used a template that would place several images into a single page.
I really enjoyed the expression of both the porpoise and trainer in this series of photos from Marineland. The story began with just the image of the adorable dolphin as the main character. By introducing the hand of the trainer, the story begins to develop. You can see the interest of the dolphin increasing with each hand gestures. Finally the trainer is introduced and you start to see her reaction to the dolphin and dolphin’s willingness to perform the trick for her. The end shows the connection that has developed between our two main characters. There is no conflict in this story but there is a strong conclusion or outcome for our characters. And for some reason the dolphin’s bubbles were intriguing to me!

Rick Sammon, known especially for his wonderful HDR photos, did a blog series on storytelling that contains some different tips to accomplish this. Check out A Week of Storytelling – the link has days out of order, but they are all there. Craig Tanner, of the unfortunately inactive The Mindful Eye website (which is still one of the best places to learn about everything photography – especially how to use space effectively in an image) has several links to his short videos on Storytelling. One from the Daily Critique of 7/16/09 describes how to make an image convey a story more effectively with proper cropping and negative space use. And perhaps one of the greatest storytellers of recent times is the wonderful Joe McNally – everything he shoots tells a story as far as I can tell and every image is interesting. Just check out his blog to see what he is doing – and all his books are interesting. I still love his first book The Moment It Clicks. Another very inspiring photographer of recent times is Steve McCurry, best known for his National Geographic image of the Afghan Girl, has a wonderful blog and website.

I wish I had just get 1% of the talent of any of the individuals mentioned here. There is a lot to learn in this area but it is worth the time to understand what it takes to create a great image. Some work, some don’t, but eventually there will be that one shot that says it all! And don’t be afraid to crop or perform changes in Photoshop to make it more interesting. Take some time when shooting to find the story – they usually are the most powerful shots you will ever take!…..Digital Lady Syd

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Humorous Shots Are Sometimes the Best

Image Processing Information:
Image 1: This image was processed in Lightroom – Matt Kloskowski’s (a major Lightroom guru and one of the Photoshop Guys) preset Focal Point (Portrait – Bottom Right) just lined up perfectly for this image. Since this was a jpg image (my Kodak point-and-shoot took the shot), the noise was pretty bad so the first thing done in Photoshop was to apply Topaz DeNoise 5 JPEG Strong preset (see sidebar for website link at my Tidbits Blog) was applied. Next Nik Viveza 2 was used to sharpen the ice cream and man’s face while the edges were darkened a little in all the corners. I still did not like the noise, especially in the red areas, so I applied Topaz DeNoise 5 again using my own settings – Overall Strength 0.24, Adjust Color – Red -0.18, Recover Detail 0.54, Reduce Blur 0.18 and Add Grain 0.11. Some clean up to remove distracting glare, sharpening to just the ice cream using a black layer mask on a High Pass Filter, and a Curves Adjustment Layer where only the red channel was increased slightly to add a little more red color back into the image. My B&W Border Frame was added to finish up.

Image 2: This image was first processed in Lightroom. Noiseware was applied to the image once brought into Photoshop. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using two of my favorite plug-ins, Detail Extractor just on the trainer and whale – the overall opacity was set to 0% so only the trainer and whale show any of the changes, and Film Efex Vintage using Film Type 11 – this gives the beautiful illustration type effect. A Curves Adjustment Layer and Vibrance Adjustment Layer were added to get the colors right. Some whale clean up and sharpening was done and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was applied to lower the saturation of the blue water. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to make the tongue pinker – the adjustment layer was filled with black and the tongue was painted back in. My Thin Double Edge Frame was added sampling colors from the image to create.

Image 3: This image was mainly processed in Lightroom. The poles were slightly tipped out so they were corrected in Lightroom’s Lens Correction Manual tab (although the ones in Adobe Camera Raw or Photoshop would have done the same correction) using the Vertical slider set to -6 to adjust them. Since the bottom corners were drawn in, the image was taken into Photoshop and the corners cloned back in. Then back in Lightroom I decided the image would look good with Matt Kloskowski’s Wedding Fairytale (Bright Edge) applied, but at a lesser amount. That is where I used The Fader, a plug-in that lets you reduce the amount of the preset effect (or more – up to 150%) – see my Fun Photoshop Blog Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader! I applied the Fader slider at 119% to get the pretty light colored waves and sandy brown beach. Next the image was brought back into Photoshop and Noiseware (I use both Topaz DeNoise and Noiseware – just grabbed this one) and Nik Viveza 2 were applied to adjust the noise and sharpness of the image. Frenchkiss’s free Glorious Grunge Overlay was applied and a Color Fill Adjustment layer was clipped to it (ALT + Click between the layers) and the color changed from black to a cream color.

Image 4: Loved the vintage feel on this not so perfect image. In Lightroom a preset was applied that I call Gritty Preset by Michael Rather – it was created by listening to a video called True Grit and I use it all the time! In Photoshop Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and two of my favorite filters were applied: Detail Extractor (Detail Extractor 57%, Contrast 6%, and Saturation 6%) with a (-) Control Point placed on his face and set to 25% opacity, and Film Efex-Vintage (used Film Type 15 and adjusted the vignette to 39%). A (-) Control Point was placed on his coat to make it whiter just a little (25% opacity). The image was sharpened in LAB Mode using the Luminosity channel and the Unsharp Mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast. My Thin Double Edge Frame Layer Style was added using the default colors.

Image 5: To create this image, it took a little more effort. The template is a free photo grid from PhotoRadar. 17 photos were added – essentially all but the large one were selected in Lightroom, cropped to the same size, then Edited in Photoshop -> Open as Layers. Once stacked in a file in Photoshop, the template was placed at the bottom of the stack and all the images were clipped to this bottom layer (ALT+click between the layers). Each one had to be Free Transformed (CTRL +T) to line up correctly in each of the openings. To create the large opening, the template was selected and the 4 bottom image openings were painted together. The large photo was placed at the bottom of the images so the overlap of the larger photo edges would not show in the other openings. A layer style was added to the bottom layer using a Stroke and Inner Glow so each image was outlined. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added on top to add contrast to all images. A Gradient was applied on the template to add the blue glow. The top text has an Outer Glow Layer Style added to it.


How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds

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

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

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

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

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


Photo Art Compositing For Fun


Keeping with my “photo art” theme, one my favorite things to do in Photoshop is to create composites so I decided to share some of my workflow and some of my experiences when creating one. I have created several composites that now hang in my home as canvas art. When I do a composite, it takes several iterations and a few days to get the exact feel I want in the image. This one above, which is named “Sisters,” has taken me a good part of three days and eight iterations before it was finalized. I try to create what I consider “relevant composites” or ones that convey a theme – not just slapping a bunch of unrelated images together.  I have found that most of my Photoshop skills are put to test when creating a good composite. This image contains five objects – the floral background and bee photos are my shots, the beautiful young ladies are from an artist at Deviant Art that was willing to share his lovely image, and two clip art butterflies.

So lets talk about how to get this final result.

1. FIND A BACKGROUND. First you need to select a good background image to place your other objects into. I knew I really liked this photo of Moss Rose flowers that grow in my front yard. I also know that it was a very blurry image (I do have some nice ones of them) but the color was beautiful in this image. It got me thinking this would give a nice background for a dreamy fairy tale look. Below is the image used for the background – it had been processed as a 3 image HDR and some texture added – only the basic HDR layer was used for the image. You can see how flurry everything but the front flowers were but the colors are very pretty.

2. ADD IN OBJECTS. The next step was to find something that would fit the “dreamy theme” I was going after. If you go up on Deviant Art (here is a link to my page), you can search for beautiful images of people dressed up in Victorian and all kinds of costumes and most are readily shared for your use. The artists at DeviantART are usually very willing to share their expertise and it is a wonderful community of people. That is how I got this wonderful image of the two young ladies in this image –  it is called Split Personalities by J Hicks at Deviant Art. Oddly enough, he used two images from another person, Eirian Stock, at Deviant Art.

From Adobe Bridge, place your selected image into your background layer image (or you can start with a totally New Document and add the background image in first) so it becomes the top layer. Add a layer mask to the image and paint out what parts you do not like showing. Free Transform the layer and change the size or distort it to fit – anything you want to do. Sometimes warping does the trick. In this case, the ladies were placed among the flowers and the whole background around the girls was painted out except for a small part of the bench they were on.

I decided that I would like to add some butterflies and a bee to the image – it seems like these objects have a fairy tale feel to them. Since I had the bee image, but it was only a small part of a bigger image, it was first opened into Photoshop and the bee was loosely selected and placed on its own layer (CTRL+J) – then this layer was copied (CTRL+A to select and CTRL+C to copy) and placed (CTRL+V) into the composite document. Using the same procedure as in Step 3, a layer mask was added to the bee layer and painting with black only the bee was left in white  on the mask. If you do not have object images, try some of the free stock photos places – I like stock.xchng.

Be aware of the composition you are creating – the image should be balanced and have a focus point. First I tried one of my butterfly images but the colors in the butterfly were too dark and it just did not blend in correctly into the total image. The two butterfly objects are from an old clip art book I purchased called Decorative Butterfly Illustrations by Dover Publications – they look rather authentic. They were on a white background so the white was removed using the Magic Wand Tool and CTRL+BACKSPACE to remove the white. Then Free Transform (CTRL+T) using Warp was applied to adjust them in the image.

3. CLEAN UP. Once you get all your objects assembled, then the clean up begins. In my image I did not add the bee until I realized that one of the girls was looking at something where there was nothing to look at in the image. First the upper left yellow flower was added  – this was cloned on a separate layer from the yellow flower on the bottom right and warped to look unique. Then the bee was added. I tried to adjust the objects so the eye stays toward the center of the image – with no bee, the eye tends to follow the girls gaze off to the left. The butterflies on the right also keep the eye from roaming too far right.

Another big issue was that the butterflies and bee were too sharp edged to match the soft edged flowers they were near. Therefore, a Gaussian Blur filter was applied to each at a fairly low amount, roughly a 4 radius, to give a soft feel and out-of-focus look to them. Some petal clean up was done where the petals looked overexposed. (See my Getting Rid of Those Blown Out Areas in Your Image blog.) Using a similar technique, little areas of the skin were smoothed out and hair and dress color was adjusted by adding New Layers and sampling color near the areas to be cleaned up – then with the brush tool set to a low opacity of 20% or less, painting back in to smooth rough areas of image. Below is what my image looked like at iteration 4. I decided I did not like the lighter colors – a little flat for the effect I wanted. Also it seemed the girls and their dresses did not stand out and I wanted them to be the focal point of the image. Using a Curves Adjustment Layer, they were lightened just slightly to make them stand out more from the colorful floral background. You can always clean up an effect anytime during the workflow if it just does not look right.

4. ADDING TEXTURES AND FILTERS. Now I could not resist the temptation to try some textures on this image. Several were tried but I decided to use one that created by using the Smudge Tool and Watercolor brushes in Photoshop – see texture below. I will be blogging on how to create your own background textures in the next couple of weeks and this is one of the examples. Use Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel to try out different textures and blend modes. You can always paint out areas on the layer mask and create some very localized texture effects. For the final image, the texture was set to Multiply blend mode at 55% opacity, and it was painted out of the skin areas using a white layer mask and painting with black. The yellow and oranges really brightened up the image and gave me some colors I liked.

Thinking I was done I decided to try just one more thing – Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in. (Use Smart Objects for this so you can go back and adjust the sliders if needed – Filter -> Convert for Smart Objects.) Maybe it would do something really interesting. (If this had not worked, I would probably have gone into OnOne PhotoEffects 3 or Topaz photoFXlab’s InstaTone – for website links, see my Tidbits Blog). The new Film Efex: Nostalgic and used Film Type 4 filter was selected – it just softened up everything and created almost hyper-pastel colors but I really liked the effect. The Overall Strength of this filter was set to 86% to tone it down just a little. Also Brilliance and Warmth was applied adding just warmth at 29%.

5. FINAL STEPS. It now feels like the image is almost done so I used my favorite clean up plug-in, Nik Viveza 2, to lighten up the whole image. Also the middle area of the image was softened and more detail was added to the pillow flower. You can do all kinds of subtle changes with this plug-in that can really enhance the composition and direct the eye.

Last steps involved brightening up the dresses more using a Curves Adjustment Layer whose layer mask was filled with black and just the dresses painted back in with low opacity brushes.

A final texture is added for framing, one of my favorites – ShadowHouse Creations Old Photo2 which gives an very old vintage feel to the image. It was set to Darker Color blend mode at 55% opacity and a layer mask was used to paint out the center and just leave the texture details around the edges. Below is how my Layers Palette looked after completing this image.

This is a decent example of what goes into a good composite. In this image alone, there were 5 Curves Adjustment Layers, 5 clean up layers, and 5 paint layers where I sampled colors and painted over areas. My original file is 955 megs and 11 X 17 inches so this is a pretty large file by my standards. A composite lends itself nicely to large canvas images. There are many other composite techniques not used here in this example but  on others such as using the Gradient Tool and Color Fill Adjustments layers for unique effects and blending. This is definitely where you get a chance to experiment. Give a composite a try – it is very rewarding to create one that represents your own personal expression……Digital Lady Syd


My Version of Photoshop Tennis!

I really love taking photos but I am slowly realizing that once in Photoshop, I end up with something entirely different than what I had in mind! There is an older book, Photoshop Secrets of the Pros by Mark Clarkson, where players “pass images back and forth making changes as they go” for a set number of rounds, ie., Photoshop Tennis. This book first got me thinking about doing radically different effects to images. Last week I did a blog on Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow where I basically showed what I do to give a different feel to an image. This week I am continuing with that theme showing other options to get more of that photo art look. The images are also examples of what happens when I start playing around with different combinations of effects in Photoshop – I am never quite sure what I will end up with. I also downloaded and tried Photomatix Pro’s new program Merge to 32-bit HDR this week so that was part of the first two images’ workflow. This image of the Ormond Heritage Condominiums (located where the old Hotel Ormond used to reside in Ormond Beach, Florida) was first processed as a five-image HDR shot using Merge to 32-bit HDR. The really neat thing is that if you already own Photomatix HDR Pro 4.2 and Lightroom 4.2, you can download it for free from the link above. All you do is select all the HDR images in Lightroom, go to File -> Export and select Merge to 32-bit HDR (or just right click and go down to Export and select the program). A dialog opens where I chose the following: Preprocessing and Merging (Align Images, Crop aligned result,by matching features, and include perspective correction) and Remove ghosts; and Name Merged File: Combined file names and check Stack with first selected photo and Scale pixel values to fixed range. The images are processed very quickly and a TIFF file is placed back with the original images, just as if you had done this in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR, except Photomatix never opens up a program – it all happens inside Lightroom. What a cool little program from Photomatix! The above image was mainly processed in Topaz photoFXlab (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog) plug-in using Topaz Adjust presets. See Image 1 settings below for more info.

When adjusting the crop on the top image in Lightroom, I got a quick look at what a small crop would look like. Basically I just liked the way it looked – the frosted light of the lamp post and the comfortable porch balconies make you want to sit outside and enjoy the view and weather. The only thing done on this image in Photoshop was using Nik Color Efex Pro 4 and stacking a bunch of filters: High Key, Sunlight, Detail Extractor, Dark Contrasts, Bi-Color Filters and Image Borders. It just works!
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This image was also processed in Lightroom using PhotoMatix Pro’s Merge to 32-bit HDR. I then did my adjustments on the resulting TIFF file in Lightroom. In Photoshop I decided right away to use the new Topaz photoFXlab program where Topaz Simplify and Topaz Lens Effects were used from the Plugins tab. See settings for Image 3 for the exact info on how this was applied.
Here is the same image with exactly the same settings as in the image above except for the framing, but the twist is that a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the Vivid Light texture and set to a Difference blend mode at 71% opacity. I loved the way it looks like as if it is being drenched in some bright light – almost a spooky feeling. I am glad I did not stop with just the image created above as I think I like this one better – there may be more of a story in this image.
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The next two images show an example of starting with a night photo taken with my point-and-shoot camera at the Gold Lion Cafe in Flagler Beach, Florida, and turning it into a really interesting almost wintery looking sketch. I did not exactly plan this result. The night image is definitely what it looked like that night as I sat topside and listened to the ocean waves rolling in. But I really like the final image with the artistic pop added.

Here is the image with a more photo art feel.

Both images took a lot of manipulation but the second one used the Layer Styles dialog to get the beautiful color out of it. See Image 6 settings below to see how this was done.

As you can see, if you stick to the basic workflow, which all these images did, but add in that new tool or different feature (like the Layer Style Blend If sliders or the new Lookup Adjustment Layer or a unique crop or blend mode combinations), you can get some very different and interesting images and end up in a totally different spot. As always, every time I work on images, it is always completely consuming and lots of fun – otherwise, why do it? Tennis anyone?…..Digital Lady Syd

Settings:

Settings for Image 1: Once the Tiff image is taken into Photoshop after making Lightroom adjustments, the background layer was duplicated Topaz photoFXlab plug-in was opened. After duplicating the layer, the Mask tab was selected and the plain sky was deleted. A new cloud image was load using +From File and placed under the top layer. A stamped layer was created using +From Stack and Topaz Adjust was opened up and Photo Pop preset was applied. In the Brushes tab, detail was increased throughout the image. PhotoFXlab was exited. The background was duplicated again and put on top in Photoshop. This layer was taken into Topaz photoFXlab again and Topaz Adjust’s preset Painting Venice was applied. Back in Photoshop a black layer mask was added and the bright areas of the image were painted in to add depth to the trees in the image. ShadowHouse Creations You’d Be Surprised texture was applied using Overlay blend mode at 34% opacity. Finally a Curves Adjustment layer was added. My frame layer style (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames) was added sampling colors from the image.

Settings for Image 3: Duplicated layer in plug-in. In Adjustments tab used these settings: Temp -4, Tint 23, Sat -12, Exp 1.80, Contrast -8, Dynamics 49, Sharpness 51, and Shadows 22. In InstaTone tab image from 500 px of an orange leaf from Aliona Shewtsova and set the layer to Saturation blend mode at 74%, which really brought out the colors. Next a +From Stack stamped layer was created. In Plugins tab Topaz Simplify was opened and the BuzzSim preset was applied as is. In the Adjustments Tab these settings were used: Temp -17, Contrast -5, Dynamics 87, and Sharpness 3. Layer opacity was set to 83%. Stamped using +From Stack. Plugins Tab used Lens Effects and applied Vignette Selective section-Soft Olive Green preset with these settings: Center on right side of slide, Vignette Strength 0.21, and Opacity 50%. Exit plug in. Exit Topaz photoFXlab. Flypaper Apple Blush taster texture was applied using Vivid Light blend mode at 100% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was applied with the individual channels being adjusted to bring out the colors I wanted. My thin double edges layer style was applied (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames).

Settings for Image 5:  After basic color adjustment in Lightroom (just a single shot), this image was opened in Photoshop CS6 and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in was opened. These filters were stacked:  Midnight using Neutral Color Set set to 65% Overall Transparency; Bi-Color Filters using the #1 Color Set; and Photo Stylizer using Cool Silver, Style 1, Strength 38% and Overall Opacity 61%. Back in Photoshop Sarah Gardner’s Blush Ginger texture was added and set to Overlay blend mode. The new Lighting Effects Filter in CS6 was used to add some soft light to the center lantern lights – the Spotlight effect was used at an Intensity of 7 and Ambience of 60. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer set to Abstract and Gold-Blue and the layer was set to a Screen blend mode at 64%. OnOne PhotoFrame (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog) Emulsion 02 was added sampling a dark color from the image for the color.

Settings for Image 6: After applying the same Color Efex Pro filters as Image 5, the image was opened up into Topaz Simplify and a Sketch preset I had previously created was applied so that the lines looked pretty much like a black and white sketch. (To create, use Mode Edges; Colorspace RGB and all sliders in Simplify section – set all to 0.00 except Details Boost 1.00, Remove Size 0.08, and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust section – Brightness 0.00, Contrast 0.73, Saturation 1.40, and Saturation Boost 1.92; and Edges – MonoEdge Normal, Edge Strength 5.00, Simplify Edge 0.22, Reduce Weak 0, Reduce Small 0, and Flatten Edge 2.28. To adjust the sketch detail and darkness, adjust the Simplify Edge slider.) Now here is the tricky part – a Layer Style was added by double clicking on the layer and in the Blending Options dialog, the Blend If section is used. On This Layer, the black tab was split by ALT + clicking on the tab the split tabs set to 0 and 164 – the white tab was left at 255. On Underlying Layer, the White Tab was split and set to 0 and 72 and the Black Tab left at 0. It looks really weird but it gave me the color effect I liked. This layer was set to Lighten at 100% opacity. A composite layer was created (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and using Select -> Color Range, the white was selected. CTRL+Backspace to delete the white from the image. Two layers were created underneath the top layer and using Best Mcbad Watercolor Brushes 22 and 30, a watercolor sky was created using blue and light pink. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added to increase the saturation in the Yellows. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast. This image used different settings for the Lighting Filter – Intensity 5 and Ambience 93 – only wanted a slight glow since it is daylight. Some clean up was done. My Layer Style (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames) was added to frame the image and that was it! Whew!


Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow



I am constantly amazed at how some of my images turn out – not at all what I had expected. This week I am going to go through my photo art workflow step-by-step so you can see what a difference a little tweaking will do. One of my favorite image types to play with in Photoshop are shots of art works. It is a nice break from cleaning up photos of family and large travel landscapes and gives me the opportunity to be creative. This image is of a type of art I had never heard of before that is on display at my favorite local museum – the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. These are examples of Victorian era cigar band art. The Photoshop-processed image above is my final photo art result and the one I liked the best, but there were several other choices I considered.

NOTE: If you want to see the settings used for any of the steps, just click on the image and the larger Flickr image will appear.

  • Here is the initial image as a RAW NEF file. The dishes were enclosed in a glass case and the camera settings were a 44-mm lens at F/4.8, 1/8 sec, and ISO 1250. There is a lot of light glare on the pieces. This image is not one I would normally choose to process, but I just loved the composition of the items and the colors in the cigar bands.

  • My next step was to create a Virtual Copy in Lightroom (this does not have to be done if using Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop) to try to clean up the tone a little before going into Photoshop. Since only a few changes were done here, it does not look much different. First I go to the Lens Correction section and select the Profile tab where I set my lens info, and then the Color tab where I check Remove Chromatic Aberration (this can save a lot of time later). The next step would be to adjust the Crop of the image if it needs it – in this case it did not. Now adjust the Basic sliders. Also check out the noise in the image and try to correct if needed. Next I right click on the image in Lightroom and select “Edit In -> Edit in Adobe Photoshop CS6” which now opens up Photoshop, if it is not already open, with your image.

  • I am a big fan of combining my plug-ins until I get just the effect I like. If I do not like what results, I just delete that layer and try again. I always duplicate the background first so I know what the image looked like to start. On a really difficult image, which I considered this one to be, I usually will first open up Nik Color Efex Pro 4 – they have so many filters, you can sometimes get a great look right away. Shown below are stacked filters Tonal Contrast, which I believe is one of the best filters in this plug-in; Pro Contrast, which is one of my personal favorites, and works wonders on many of the images I have processed; and Brilliance/Warmth, one of the most popular Color Efex filters – just adds a really soft warmth to an image. Usually I like the Detail Extractor, but it really looked bad on this image due to all the glare on the items. Note that before entering the plug-in, I created a Smart Object (right click on your duplicated layer in Layer Panel and select Convert to Smart Object in menu) as Nik plug-ins work very well with Smart Objects. It allows you to go back into the plug-in and all settings and control points will still be in place so they can be readjusted easily.

  • Since there is so much glare in this image, there is only one plug-in I know of that does a good job controlling it and that is my most used plug-in, Nik Viveza 2. It will almost always improve if not remove problem areas on an image. You can see I have added 10 control points on the glare areas (click on image to see the little round circles more clearly in Flickr) to try to even out the tone. By comparing to the above, it is not perfect, but what a difference it makes! The detail and saturation of the image is also much improved. (See my blog Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!)

  • Still have issues where the glare is – it needs to be cleaned up and the pink removed since it draws your eye into the left corner and it is distorted by the glare. The Color Replacement Tool was used to turn the pink color turquoise (see settings used in Options Bar in photo and turquoise foreground color in swatch) and some cloning was done on the dish to even out the pattern where the glare blows out the detail. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get rid of another pink hot spot. I usually try to work completely non-destructively (meaning the original image was not changed by any of the adjustments made on the layers above), but the Color Replacement Tool is destructive and changes are made on the image itself – the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer may have been a better choice for this problem area.

  • I always add or at least try to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast towards the end of my workflow. Since I thought I was almost done, it seemed appropriate to add it now. Below is what my curve looked like for this image. I usually just drag the Hand Tool (located in the upper lefthand corner of the panel) in the image to get this correct. It usually is just a subtle change but very significant. In this case I only wanted to brighten up the plate and mug where the color was located, not enhance where the glare was. The Curves Adjustment layer mask was turned black by clicking on the mask and CTRL+I to invert the color from white to black. Then a soft 30% opacity brush was set to white and used to gently paint back the areas where the I wanted additional contrast and color. This was a good point to create a composite layer that combines all the layers below into one on top by clicking (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) – this helps when the number of layers gets large as some techniques need a single layer to work correctly – this can especially be a problem with the Clone Tool.

  • At this point I thought I was getting the image to a final look. I decided I wanted sort of a vintage type edge on the image, so I used one of my very favorite textures, ShadowHouse Creations Old Photo 6. After trying several blend modes, I selected the Exclusion blend mode (which I do not use that much but worked in this case) set to 53% opacity. Still not sure it was quite what I wanted so I decided to add one of his new Assorted Mask Overlay (08) and set it to Soft Light blend mode at 100% opacity. Basically just the beautiful edges were used on both layers, and the image center was mainly painted out using black in the layer masks to keep the basic image intact. I often use the free Russell Brown Paper Texture Panel to try out and stack the various textures (the green square at the top of the icons to the left of the panels opens it up).

  • I must be done???? But then I thought, I wonder what happens if I take this image into the new Topaz photoFXlab (see sidebar for website in my Tidibits Blog). Well that proved to be a problem because I started finding all kinds of new effects I liked on this cleaned up image. The settings below were applied as a first step to the bottom layer for all the different Topaz effects tried on this image.

  • I duplicated the bottom layer in the plug-in and applied from the Effects tab a preset called Lithography by H. Hurst (Topaz used the preset from Topaz Detail) and set the layer to 65% opacity. In the Adjustment tab, the Saturation slider was set to 20. The Dodge Brush was used from the Brush tab to whiten around the pupil of the eyes of the girl on the plate using a brush strength of .10. Next the lips were slightly reddened using the Saturation brush. It was saved in the new Topaz extension .pfxl so the settings could be readjusted at a later date if needed. Clicked OK and applied to it to the image in Photoshop. At this point I did create a note to remind myself exactly what I did in the plug-in since I am still learning about the new extension. The image that resulted is shown below.

  • To be honest, I just didn’t love the final result so I decided to delete the layer where I applied the photoFXlab plug-in and start over in this plug-in. This time I decided to try out the results using the Plug-in tab and selected Topaz Adjust 5. Here I tried out one of my favorite presets I created from the French Countryside preset in the Vibrant Collection. It looked nice and more like what I wanted. I use this preset a lot when I want a nice artistic feel.

  • I decided to try one more preset just to see if I liked it and sure enough, it is the one I selected. It is in the Stylized Collection and is called Painting-Venice. I added several settings in the Finishing Touches section: Transparency – Overall Transparency slider to .7, Color – Warmth 0.03, and Tone – Quad Settings as shown on the image – the correct colors should be set already. Once out of the Adjust plug-in, in the Adjustment tab Exposure was set to 0.38, Contrast to -3 and Dynamics 24.


Well this is a good example of my workflow for a photo art image. I could have used OnOne Software’s wonderful Perfect Effects (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog), or any of the other plug-ins offered by Topaz, but it just depends on what I think will work. Overall the main components are 1) process as discussed above in Lightroom, 2) take into Photoshop and do any clean up, 3) add plug-in effects, 4) add any textures if you want, 5) I always go to Viveza 2 now, 6) do any extra sharpening or noise reduction that might be required,  7) add a Curves Adjustment layer for final tone and contrast, and 8) add any framing. I hope you can see that even though a change is very small, it can be very significant to the photo, and that you can always change your mind. An image can take on such a different feel with different plug-ins and textures applied. I thought originally I wanted a very sharp almost HDR look for this image, but I ended up with a very bright painterly result. I am happy with it but it is not exactly what I had in mind when I started! …..Digital Lady Syd


Using Topaz photoFXlab to Replace Skies

Now that the latest version of photoFXlab (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) has been released for several weeks, I have had a little time to come to grips with how to use the program and integrate it into my workflow. I have been surprised by how often I am using the Masking Brush to add new skies to my landscape images.


The above depicts a really cool private bar on the beach on one of the more remote roads in  Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas. I had the fortune of sailing there a couple years ago and am revisiting some of the images I did not process. It is so clear for starters because I converted it to a 32-bit HDR image in Photoshop CS6’s Merge to HDR and then processed the resulting TIFF file in Lightroom. (See my blog New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability for info on how to do this). So many of my images from Marsh Harbour had no clouds in them –  so I added a few in the background for effect. Now that I am getting familiar with the Edge Aware Masking Brush in photoFXlab, it is turning out to be one of my favorite selection tools.

These are the basic steps to replace a sky and it is very simple:

1.  Once inside the plug-in, duplicate the bottom layer (always do this when using photoFXlab – it can save you from a lot of problems in the long run.)

2.  Go to +From File button and select a cloud image you like – watch out for the way the sun is lighting up the clouds. If you took the original image in the middle of the day, use a cloud image from a similar time of day. Also be sure it is a jpeg or a psd file (it will flatten the layers when it comes in) – photoFXlab does not open up camera raw files. I took a NEF file I liked and saved it down as a jpg in Photoshop – pretty easy.

3.  Use the Tools tab in photoFXlab to Scale, Move or Rotate (or flip) the cloud layer to fit the area you want to fill – line up the part of the image you like, even if the edges go outside the original image size.

4.  Move this layer underneath the duplicated image layer.

5.  Now the magic starts!  Select the Masks tab and create a fairly small size brush setting the Strength to 0 (creates a black line on the mask so you see through to layer underneath), Hardness around .20 (shows a fairly large feather size – set to 1 it has no feather), Flow 1.00 (if you make this .5, you only get a gray or 50% black color and it is hard to keep the tone the same), and Edge Aware 1.00 (set to 0 it will detect no edges).  Start painting on the mask – make sure the crosshairs or inner circle of the brush do not enter into any part of the image you want to keep. Let the feather area of the brush slip over other areas so edges between image layers will be sharp. Zoom in if you need to get the details. Paint around the horizon edges first, and then fill in the background with a larger brush size and Edge Aware set to 0. Voila – there is your new sky.

What is really neat is that even if your little edges disappear – like the coat hangars and chain in the above image, the details can sometimes be brought back by lowering the opacity of your cloud image just a little – in this case I set it to 54% since I did not want the clouds being the major center of attention. Just be careful around the horizon lines – set the Strength to 255 (white) to clean up areas that you painted over – it actually acts like an eraser.

The +From Stack button was clicked to create a Stamped or Composite layer on top. In the Adjustments tab the Saturation was set to 23, Contrast to -23, Dynamics to 51, Highlights to -21, and Shadows to -4. The image was brought back into Photoshop where a Curves Adjustment Layer was added for additional contrast and that was it.

This is so much faster than using the Photoshop selection tools or any of the masking plug-ins, but it really works best on skies. I believe other programs should be used when you have a more complicated selection. Still, this is one of the major things I need it for and it works great!
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I listened to Topaz Webinar A Closer Look at Edge-Aware Brushes with Nicole Paschal, who does a great job creating  interesting and useful webinars that highlight all the Topaz products and how they work together. You can type in questions in an interactive way with both the staff and Nicole as she is presenting the webinar – very informative. Several webinar tips are listed below along with a few of mine:

  • If you find that you are not getting a good distinct line between the items you are trying to select, change the brush size down to a smaller size – it will give you a better result as large brushes do not recognize edges as well. The Edge-Aware technology is based upon the color under the crosshair so this gives a smaller and more accurate sample.
  • Can either brush or click to fill area. Usually the first pass of brushing will leave little areas not covered completely or with a little haloing, but if you brush back over it , they disappear. Nichole finds that it is easier for her to just click several times as she moves through the area of the image instead of actually brushing.
  • Make sure your inner circle is not touching any color you do not want selected.
  • Set the Brush Strength to 255 to paint back in areas that you accidentally covered up when painting on the mask. If you set the Strength to 125, the area allows 50% of the layer below to show through, as done in the last image below.
  • Probably best to create another +From Stack layer if you want to add some of the Brushes effects to an image. Nicole says she likes to do just one major brush effect to each layer at a time. There is then more flexibility in adjusting opacity and changing blend mode for each change done.


If you look closely, you can tell this Marsh Harbour image used the same cloud image, this time at full strength. The same workflow was used to get the clouds in the image. Normally at this point the Adjustments tab and the Dynamics slider would have been used, but it just did not give me the look I wanted.  Therefore Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was selected with these filters stacked: Detail Extractor with control points removing it from the sky, Darken/Lighten Center which gives the slight vignette effect, and Pro Contrast using the Dynamic Contrast slider which I do not always like. Nik Viveza 2 was also used to add detail into the water and sharpen the stones a little. Sometimes you have use more than one plug-in to get the right effect, but the sky still looks great using the Masks tab.
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This beautiful Lion’s Face is atop a tower on Flagler College (the old Ponce de Leon Hotel) in St. Augustine, Florida. They are all over the campus and city. These slightly different steps were followed:  The Adjustments tab settings were: Saturation set to 2, Contrast -37 and Dynamics +96.  From the +From File, Shadowhouse Creations Marshmellow Skies was opened, then scaled and rotated in the Tools tab so it was on a diagonal to fill out the sky area. A Stamp layer was created by clicking the +From Stack button, and in the Effects tab the Black and White Effect preset called Opalotype-Hand Tinted Cream preset was applied. This layer was set to Lighten Blend Mode at 100% Opacity. In the Masks tab again, the middle of image was painted out using a large brush set to a Brush Value of 145 (middle gray) so it just clears the effect from the lion’s face a little. Back in Photoshop my layer style frame was used (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog).

Pretty easy and fast to replace a sky in this new program from Topaz. If you have some of their products already, download the photoFXlab trial and see what you think – I personally like the feel of the new interface and am using it a lot!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Topaz photoFXlab v1.1
Using photoFXlabs v1.1


This and That – Just Having Some Fun!


Usually I try to have a particular theme for my major blog. I have been busy this week but doing all sorts of different things so I decided to just post some of my favorites. The image above is from the Big Island in Hawaii and it was not a first pick when I was processing. After I got a chance to play around in Photoshop with it though, it turned out to be one of my favorites. Sort of represents the kind of terrain that the trees in the area have to contend with and the light was very nice at this spot.

This is a 3-image hand-held HDR shot that ended up with a lot of different steps, starting first with Photoshop’s Merge to HDR to align and remove any ghosting. That tone-mapped image was then taken into Nik’s HDR Efex Pro and one of my favorite presets, Grannys Attic, was applied. Next Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied using another one of my favorite presets, Midnight at 3% blur, which gives the tree more of a silhouette feel. Wow – not finished yet! Next Topaz Adjust 5 (see website link in my Tidbits Blog sidebar) was applied with the Timeless IV preset. But there’s more – one of my favorite textures, Shadowhouse Creations Paper Texture Scratchbox4 which has a golden lower half and a light greenish-turquoise top half set to Overlay at 80%, gives the image the warm vintage tones. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added for some tonal contrast. Finally, my Thin Double Edge Frame was applied (see DLS Free Layer Style Frames blog) – it creates a really nice slim framing and the colors can be changed easily by sampling within the image. Done!

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This wall art image is on display in the open-air one mile long corridor that contains all sorts of art at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii. Just one of the very unusual pieces that is available to view on your leisurely stroll about the resort, but this guy means business or else he has some really bad breath!

This time I tried a sharpening technique in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR (see John Paul Caponigro’s blog Creative Sharpening with HDR Software) as a first step. Next, using Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel (see links at end for blog link), two Flypaper textures were added, Paper Texture Creme Anglaise Taster set to Blend Mode Exclusion at 100% Opacity which turned the whole image dark and Paper Texture Touchstone Taster set to Color Burn Blend Mode at 64% Opacity. A slight S-Curve Curves Adjustment Layer was added to increase contrast a little. Finally OnOne’s PhotoFrame (see website link in my Tidbits Blog sidebar) acid burn controlled 04 frame was used with the color being sampled from the image.

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Oh no! Where did he come from? Back in my blog again?? – this is my office-mate Ted – had him way before he got famous. Seems to be enjoying himself. Hum! (See my Tidbits Blog My Office Friend Ted.)

Ted was processed using the wonderful Topaz Simplify 3 plug-in (see website link in my Tidbits Blog sidebar)  and here are my settings used: Simplify – Colorspace YCbCR, Simplify Size 0.52, Feature Boost 3.83, Details Strength 1.51, Details Boost 1.27, Details Size 0.62, Remove Small 0, and Remove Weak 0.16; Adjust – Brightness 0.01, Contrast 1.07. Saturation 1.03, and Saturation Boost 0.97; and Edges – Mono Edge Fine, Edge Strength 4.47, Simplify Edge 0.39, Reduce Weak 7, Reduce Small 0.07, and Fatten Edge 4.11. A composite was created above this layer (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and set to Linear Light at 37%. Next Sarah Gardner’s texture Blush Cherry was added (the website is no longer offering this texture but ShadowHouse Creations Pastels Texture Set Pastel-10 is very close) set to Soft Light Blend Mode at 100% Opacity lightened up the image. A text layer was created using Sassys Teddys 3 font and a Layer Style with these settings were added to the text layer: Bevel & Emboss set to Contour and Texture, Style Inner Bevel, Technique Smooth, Depth 100, Direction Up, Size 7, Soften 0, Angle 25 wit Use Global Light checked, Altitude 30 and the rest default settings; Outer Glow set to Normal Blend Mode, Opacity 100, color R77/G30/B19, Technique Softer, Spread 0, Size 237 and the rest default settings; and Drop Shadow – just dragged around on screen a bit in Multiply Blend Mode and Black, Opacity 75%, Angle 25 & Use Global Light checked, Distance 29, Spread 0, and Size 7. Whew! Finally the same Layer Style was applied as for the first image using different colors in the frame.

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Thought I would finish off with an effect that reminded me of one of my kids favorite books from forever ago, The Berenstein Bear’s Spooky Old House. This old building image I use a lot for practice with the plug-ins is in Jackson, Mississippi and stands under one of the most striking buildings in the area, the Lamar Life Insurance Building (see my Tidbits Blog Topaz Adjust 5 Is Here! First Look!).

The processing for this image was practically all in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 – four filters were stacked: Detail Extractor, Tonal Contrast, Pro Contrast, and Midnight using Color Set Blue and Blur set to6%. These are some of my favorite filters and are used often with various other filters for different looks. Got to love Color Efex Pro! A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for a little more contrast and OnOne’s PhotoFrame Jack Davis 02i. Pretty simple but really cool looking.

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Hope you enjoyed some of the images I was working with this past week and hope I did not put you to sleep with all the details. Most of these images did not require a lot of work and the plug-ins gave a really nice boost to the final look in all of them……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
HDR Using Photoshop Merge to HDR and Nik”s HDR EFex Pro and Silver Efex Pro? Wow!
Using Color Efex Pro and Texture for a Warm Hawaiian Landscape Effect
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
White Daisies! Using Color Efex Pro Midnight Filter