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Posts tagged “Nik Viveza 2


Image of some Vinca Flowers with water droplets on themHope everyone is having a wonderful New Years. I have been taking a lot of time learning about black and white images recently. This original technique was created by the fabulous Russell Brown years ago. Russell used to have a video on his website and luckily I had taken a few notes. After playing around with adjustment layers and settings, I found out it can create very nice B&W and color effects too. A benefit to using this technique for a B&W conversion is the highlights will not be blown out. The pink Vinca flower image above used this technique – check out the video to see some other variations to the image. I found this technique works really well with floral images.

The workflow is very simple:
1. First do any clean up and adjustments to the original color image to get a clean start for your conversion to black and white.
2. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top, change the blend mode to Color, and name the layer Filter (like a filter put in front of a camera lens to balance the gray shades that appear on the film).
3. Add another Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top and change the Saturation Slider to -100 and name it Film (to represent black and white film).
4. In the Filter Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer, adjust the Master sliders and all the individual color sliders until you get a pleasing black and white effect – this converts the colors to tones. Or use the Target Adjustment Tool (hand icon in upper left of panel) and click+drag in image to change the Saturation of the item under the icon and CTRL+drag to adjust the Hue. Try SHIFT+clicking on different areas in your image so changes can be applied to a broader range in the image – check out the bottom strip to see the color range tabs move (these tabs can be dragged manually also).

Check out my short video to see how this image can be changed with a few simple adjustments to get very different results. (If the link is not available in the RSS feed, go the actual blog to activate video.)

Orchids at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, FloridaThis image was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. The above workflow was used on this image. No tint was added, but a heavy grain effect was added which is often used on black and white images. You do not want black and white images to have too slick a look which shooting digitally often creates.
Image of The London Eye
Another nice result of using this technique is that very pleasing color effects can be achieved. The image above of the London Eye used the same technique above except that the Film Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was set to 50% layer opacity and instead of a Filter Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used (as shown in the video). In  Colors: Red, just the Black slider was moved right to darken the reds a little. Then the Whites, Midtones and Blacks Colors were adjusted to get the really nice highlights in the trees, the blues in the sky, and the nice soft reflection in the water. To darken down the whole scene a little, my favorite Color Lookup Adjustment Layer preset called Foggy Night was added at 20% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was used to get the soft sunset effect. I was really surprised how nice this came out using the same basic technique. If the Film Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer is set to 100%, the image goes back to a black and white image, and the Selective Color Adjustment Layer will just adjust the tones in the image. Try using the Color Lookup Adjustment Layer on top with the black and white to get a nice overall tint to the image.

Hope you enjoyed the blog – I was surprised how easy this is to do. I created a very basic Action by just adding the two Hue/Sat Adjustment Layers with the workflow changes. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd



Image of a Magic Holiday TreeThis week I discovered a very easy way to create those glitter textures that are everywhere and would be perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Thought I would share this easy process and a couple of images on how I used them. The image above uses the dark blue glitter texture from in my video to create a soft sparkling background effect. This technique was described in a 2012 video tutorial called Music Lights by Dom Quichotte at FX-ray – it has lots of other interesting tips also. See my short video that demonstrates just how to create the texture effect. If you do not see the link in the RSS feed, please open the blog and it will be available.

If you are not a video person, or want a quick reference for steps on how to do this, here is the workflow for the glitter effect:

  1. Create a Document – the standard size for most textures is 8″ X 10″ at 300 resolution.
  2. Fill layer with a color to make your glitter texture. I used a dark blue color (R20/G30/B55) in the tree image above.
  3. Set the color swatch to the default colors Black and White by pressing D.
  4. Create a New Layer and fill with black – ALT+Backspace.
  5. Go to Filter -> Render -> Fibers and set Variance to 64 and Strength to 4.
  6. Change to Color Dodge blend mode.
  7. Go to Filter -> Other -> Minimum and set Radius to 2 pixels.
  8. Go to Filter -> Other -> Maximum and set Radius to 2 pixels. Now have a beautiful sparkling background.
  9. To add a little variation to the texture, add another New Layer and go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds and set to Overlay blend mode. If you do not like the cloud pattern created, press CTRL+F or just open the Filter menu item and select first option to generate a new pattern.
  10. Go to Filter -> Distort -> Spherize and set Amount to -100. Adjust opacity to taste.
  11. Save document as a JPG in your texture folder.
  12. To change the color of the glitter effect, just add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top – check Colorize box, and move the three sliders to get the new color. On the tree image, a Gradient Map was added on top of the blue texture to create the subtle multi-color background – in this case it was a brown to white to light blue to dark blue. (For more info on Image 1, go to bottom of blog.)

Image of white flowers on a green glitter textureThis image is the one shown in my video. The PNG file was created from the blue glitter texture also created in the video. Just followed the steps below. (For more info on the Hawaiian Flowers Image 2 above, go to bottom of blog.) To create a PNG of the just the sparkly points, continue with these steps:

  1. Open the Glitter jpg image and duplicate the layer.
  2. Go to Select -> Select Color Range and drag the eyedropper tool around in image until it looks like a nice starry look. Be sure Localized Color Clusters are checked and adjust both the Fuzziness slider (I set to 52) and the Range Slider (set to 100%). At this point it should be mainly black color with light points showing up as white in the filter window. Click OK.
  3. Add a layer mask to the duplicate texture layer and the light points appear as white in the mask but will probably have some color in them in the layer – add a white layer underneath to see what was selected.
  4. Right click inside the mask and select Apply Layer Mask.
  5. Turn off the other layers and go to Save -> Save As and select PNG file format.

Now you have a transparent texture with just the glitter highlights. To make the glitter color all white like snow, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment and set the Lightness to +100. For black glitter set Lightness to -100, or change the color any way with the sliders. Duplicate the transparent texture and to to Edit -> Free Transform to spread the glitter out some – Perspective was used below. Then go to Filter -> Gaussian Blur and set a Radius to something like 3 to create a softening effect on that layer. By stacking the two PNG files, it can create a really nice snow effect. See below for how I used the PNG texture in the image of a Scottish Close in Edinburgh. (For more info on Image 3, check below.)

Image of Anchor Close in Edinburgh, Scotland I really like being able to create my own effects instead of having to worry about buying them or finding out they cannot be used for commercial projects. I hope to continue creating blogs that will help others create their own resource tools. Well that is it for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image information:

Image 1:  For the Magic Tree image, first painted a tree trunk and branches freehand on New Layer above white background, then the glitter background was placed directly underneath it. The tree leaves were brushes created in Corel Painter’s using the Symmetrical Tool and different Painter brushes. The PS new Technology called Paint Symmetry is just not quite as good yet although one brush was created and used. I ended up with 16 new brushes used on the tree along with some little glitter brushes to give the magical look. Next the image was taken into Luminar 2018 where just two filters were applied: Soft Glow and the Golden Hour. They both really lightened up the tree and made the snowflake edges less sharp. Last step was back in PS where Nik Viveza 2 was used on the image to adjust the whole color tone.

Image 2: Not much here other than the blue texture was used and a Turquoise Solid Color Fill Layer was added clipped (ALT + Click between layers to clip) and set to Color blend mode for the greenish color. The white Hawaiian flowers were extracted and placed on top. Next the Sparkling Blue Glitter PNG was added on top of the flowers. To change just the color of the dots on just the flowers, select the flowers from the layer before by CTRL+clicking on the flowers, then select the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer – the layer mask will show just the flowers in it. The Hue was set to 33, Saturation 98, and Lightness -5 with Colorize checked. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the contrast in the image. A darken layer and flower lines layer were used to clean up the flowers.

Image 3:  One iteration I created of this image is a very warm sunny day effect. I also liked the cool wintry effect. Lucis Pro (no longer available) was used to get the really sharp look. Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken down the image some. Lots of clean up layers. The snow was created using the steps above – duplicating the layer and blurring it – a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to convert the color all to white.


Image of Saturn's Rings from Cassini Mission
This beautiful image was originally a black and white taken on one of the last days of the NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission using its Wide Angle Lens. The Moon Tethys is in the upper left background. My original thought was to just try painting different colors into the rings to get an unnatural but pretty color effect. To my surprise, Topaz Studio using both Clarity and the new Detail adjustments were a quick answer to get the beautiful result.

Here is the workflow followed to get the above results:

  1. First downloaded the image from the NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission site – scroll halfway down to find image pia21342-1041 where both tiff and jpeg files can be downloaded. The image above used the tiff file, but the jpeg file worked out pretty good even though it had such a small resolution. (The bottom image of Mimas was two jpeg files that were 59 and 67 KB.)
  2. Open in Photoshop and go to Image -> Mode -> Grayscale and change image to RGB.
  3. Go to the Image -> Image Size – set resolution to 300 by unchecking the Resample box, enter 300, and recheck (the jpeg file is at 72 ppi but the tiff file is 300). Can now go in and change size in inches and set to Preserve Details (enlargement) in drop-down menu if needed. Can also Reduce Noise if noticeable at this point.
  4. Duplicate image and open Topaz Studio – apply my SJ Saturn Rings. The preset has been uploaded to the Topaz Community. The colors were set in the Color Theme Adjustment so the colors in the rings can be changed to any colors wanted by just clicking on each square in the New Color Theme settings swatches and selecting new colors.
  5. Added a Green Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to increase the contrast just in the green channel. (Same technique as using a Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer – see my How to Use a Red Channel to Crete a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.)
  6. Since Detail was just added to Studio, a composite image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and went back to Topaz Studio -> Detail. Since I am having trouble with my presets and am working with the Tech Team, the settings are just listed here (Detail in TSO – Overall-Overall Small Detail 0.34, Small Detail Boost 0.67, Medium Detail 0.51, Medium Detail Boost 0.31, Large Detail 0.53, and Large Detail Boost 0.31, Lighting Midtones 0.29 and Highlights 0.63. In layer mask painted out the rings and left the background dark to keep noise under control – used brush set to Mask Transparency 0.80. Channel Mixer Adjustment – Adjusted Lightness Channel-Red 1.73, Green -0.23, and Blue 0.34, then painted out background so only just the rings received the effect). Back in PS the layer was set back to 80%.

That is all that was done to this image. It was a lot of fun and I love the results, even though the rings are not quite those colors. The point is that it took only a few minutes to do this image – no hand painting – it just picked up the colors. The Color Theme Adjustment did most of the color work and then Detail’s new Color Mixer Adjustment tweaked it a bit.

NASA image of Saturn's Moon MimasThis updated Detail is much like the updated Clarity as it is also divided into two adjustments: Precision Detail and Color Mixer. Since it just came out, I do not have much experience working with all the sliders – the Channel Mixer Adjustment appears quite different from the original Topaz Detail 3 interface. But I am enjoying having the sliders available for quick use when needed. Here is a quick reminder of what some of the sliders do in the new Precision Detail Adjustment:

Small Details – Affects visibility of fine details in image

Small Boost – Weakens or strengthens the smaller details

Medium Details and Medium Boost – Affects visibility of the medium details with Boost weakening or strengthening the effect

Large Details and Large Boost – Adjusts visibility of the large details with Boost weakening or strengthening the effect

Sharpen – a new slider added – it does seem to add in more detail.

There is a new section called Lighting which contains sliders for Midtones, Shadows, Highlights, Black Point and White Point – same sliders from Detail 3 except the Midtones slider has been added and the Exposure and Contrast sliders are now removed.

The Channel Mixer Adjustment was also added to complete the update of the old Detail 3. It contains a totally new interface from the original Tone section that contained Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green, and Yellow-Blue sliders – these correspond to the Red, Green and Blue channels in this adjustment. There is also a Gray swatch which represents the Lightness of the image. I need to find out more on these sliders, but each have Red, Green, Blue, and Constant sliders. In the Adjustment Preset drop-down, there are several presets (Cloudy Evening, Faux Infrared Landscape, Red Contrast, and Red Green Switch) that can be tried out to see what happens with these sliders. A Maintain Brightness and Monochrome toggle switches were also added. Lot to explore here.

The image above is a composite of an upper and lower level NASA images taken in March 2017 from the same site. Topaz ReStyle was used to introduce the color palette. Topaz Studio’s Precision Detail Adjustment, Color Theme Adjustment, and Impression Adjustment were all used to get this almost poster like effect. For the Precision Detail Adjustment, a layer mask was opened and Luma was selected so just the moon was selected and the background was black – Luminosity slider 0.11 and Range 0.01. In PS Saturn was added in on separate layers with some brushes I had created a long time ago. On a final stamped layer on top, Nik Viveza 2 was used to soften the rough edges between the sharp shadow lines of the moon.

A couple of things I noticed – it appears that they are removing the older versions of the plug-ins in the Plug-ins drop-down and just adding them into the Studio Adjustment lists. Am checking on this as I would like to have the old ones still available. Also, there appears to be the original category preset choices on the left side that correspond to the plug-in being used by clicking on the drop-down menu under the Search field.

Try downloading some of the wonderful imagery from NASA and see if you can create a magical feel. Just remember all the beautiful Hubble images were originally black and white images and the colorization used is similar to what was created in this blog. Hope you have a wonderful weekend…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

Updated Impression Now in Topaz Studio
Updated Clarity Now in Topaz Studio
Introducing the Free Topaz Studio
Flowers Enjoying a Planetary Twilight Sky


Digital painted image of a farm sceneLots of times I have found or created a texture I really like that I would like to use in an image but not sure where. So this is a blog on how to create images for that texture, and possibly get your creative mind going. Not particularly a new concept, but a little different approach for using texture. It also gives you a chance to brush up on your compositing skills and try out some nature brushes. The image above is an example of my using a texture that I created in Corel Painter and used in this image originally.

There are not a lot of steps to this process. Just open the texture above a white Background layer in case the texture needs to be set to a different blend mode or opacity amount. Next add elements and/or text, and finally do the finishing steps as if post-processing an image.

That is exactly what was done above – here is the workflow for this image to demonstrate the steps. The texture was added and left as it is. Next Photoshop’s tree filter was used to create this pretty foreground tree. If you have not experimented with this filter, give it a try. (For more on this see my How to Create a Photoshop Artistic Tree.) It is so much fun! These are my tree settings – most of the settings were changed to get the tree effect shown above.  (Base Tree Type: 19: Fraxinus Griffithi which is an Evergreen Ash, Light Direction 85, Leaves Amount 22, Leaves Size 130, Branches Height 94, Branches Thickness 77, Uncheck Default Leaves and select 8: Leaves 8, Uncheck Randomize Shapes Arrangement 21.3.) A layer mask can always be added if you do not quite like the way the branches look – in this case some of the leaves were too dark so a 30% brush was painted over them in the mask to lighten them up. The Liquify Tool can also be used to get the branches sitting just right. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the tree to make it more golden in color to match the texture. The texture looked like a golden wheat field to me so a little red barn from PixelSquid was added – a mask was added so the bottom of the barn could be removed and hide it from view. The layer was set to 55% layer opacity so it is looks a little less sharp and more distance. I love the brushes by DeviantArt’s ninelvlsup and her Dandelion Whisps brush was used in the foreground. Some of the edges were removed with a layer mask. The birds are from a Flypaper Bird Set that I use all the time. To soften the effect of the birds, a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the birds and a yellow and red pattern was used. The bird layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity. The last element is the single bird from the same brush set called Big Crow Fly Birds brush – it was duplicated and the top layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 65% layer opacity to emphasize the bird a little more. The elements are now in place. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle was opened. There a different color palette was applied – one that was less bright and yellow and created a cooler color tone – the preset was created from another image. (See my Flagler Beach Pier image for color palette used.) This layer was set to Color blend mode. The final steps are what I generally do when finishing up a regular photo image. Not all my steps were used here but a lot of them. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. On another stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to shift the focus back over to the bird from the barn. On a New Layer a little spatter brush was used to give the grass a little life – I wanted it to look like little bugs flying around. A soft orange Light Leak was added to the top left for a bit of color in the sky. A Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was added to pull the whole image together. The last step was to add a layer style to the edge for a soft brown border – just an Inner Shadow set to Normal blend mode, brown color, Distance 0, Choke 53, and Size 29; and Inner Glow set to Saturation blend mode, Opacity 100%, white color, Softer Technique, Edge, Choke 0, and Size 250 pixels. Know this got a little long, but it is a pretty good example of how to pull a composite effect together once the texture is chosen.


Below are two examples of using basically the same elements in the same place but used with different textures that give a totally different look. Digital Art image of fur trees and a deerThis image used a really colorful background texture that I created using a whole bunch of the brushes in Grut’s Inky Leaks Splatter Brushes, which are fabulous brushes. Here is a link to how this texture was used before. It gives a subtle effect especially in the sky in the above. Here is a quick run-through of the steps using a very similar workflow. The tree was created using the PS Tree filter  again (the Pine Tree 2 was used) and duplicating and flipping it to make a second one. The deer element is from Tara Lesher (could not get weblink to work). Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes were used. The flower under the large tree is actually from a recent Checking Out the Buds Tidbits Blog. I try to save out anything that could be used again for other images. The flying ducks are also from the Flypaper Bird set above. A light leak was added on right side. A Van Gogh preset was applied in Topaz Impression 2 – a layer mask was used to paint back the deer, birds and tree trunks. Three more textures were used get even more of a painterly look: one of mine which had yellow and a slight bluish vignette around it and set to Darken blend mode at 57% layer opacity (used Topaz Texture Effects in PS to create it), 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog). The Grey Collection 3 was set to Overlay blend mode, and her Ancient 1 set texture 2 was set to Linear Light at 28% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust focus. Last step added a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Candlelight preset – it was set to Linear Burn at 10% layer opacity. Pretty much the same as above but very different result.

In the image below I wanted to show how a different texture gives a very different result. It contains the same basic elements except that the grass was created using  Aaron Blaise‘s Foliage brush set and Directional Fur and Hair brush set. I was really surprised what nice flowers and grass can be created with these brushes. The texture is another one I painted in Corel Painter. The font is called Winter Holidays. I am not sure I have ever used this texture before but I like it. The reason this image looks so different is that the PS Lighting Effects filter was used to set the lighting on the right side. Otherwise the image was post-processed as the first one.

Digital image of fur trees and a deerThis is something to try when you do not feel so inspired. There always seems to be some texture that will get you interested in creating. Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blog:
How to Make a Basic Composite Image
Creating Winter Wonderland Effect!
How to Create an Image From Nothing!


Image of Native American Festival BlanketsRecently I have been watching many Photoshop videos. This week I thought I would share some quick tips that I am finding to be very handy. These may be obvious things to many of you, but all of the tips below were new to me. For info on the Blankets image taken at the Native American Festival, see bottom of blog.

Add Noise to Bring an Image Together

This really works and looks nice, especially if a texture was added for a background or creating a composite. Just go to Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur and set all sliders to 0 except the Noise slider which is set to 4 and Distribution Uniform. Very subtle but nice effect.


Okay – this is something that I never knew was in Photoshop, but what a major time-saver it is (unfortunately it is not in CS6)! We all know pressing the SPACEBAR turns any tool into the Hand Tool, but did you know it can be used to also move the image around the workspace? Go to Edit ->Preferences -> Tools and check the Overscroll box. That is is! What a time saver. Now the image still stays attached as a tab, but it can be moved around to avoid panels opening in the workspace or for close up painting.

Rotate View Tool

Here is a tool I have never used much but will be. It is indispensable when trying to paint in a certain direction or draw black lines around objects. The Rotate View Tool (R) icon is hidden behind the Hand Tool in the Toolbar. Need to select it and then click on your document. A large star-shaped pointer icon appears that indicates the direction of the image – adjust by spinning the document to the angle needed. The cool thing to know is this tool has a “springboard” R key – this means that while painting, just hold down the R key and the pointer icon will appear in the image to readjust the angle, let go, and continue painting! To return image to upright, just double click on the icon or press the ESC key. It is very quick and handy to use. Try it and I bet you will like it also!

Printing Out the Steps to an Action

The individual action steps cannot be printed out, but all the actions in a set can be printed out. To do this, highlight the set that contains the action you want to see. Next hold down the ALT+CTRL keys and Open the pop-out menu in the upper right corner of the Actions panel. Do not lift up on mouse, but just scroll down the menu to Save Actions. When the explorer opens us, the file will show a .txt extension on it instead of the regular action .atn extension.  Now the action steps will be listed when file is opened. This is really handy if you are trying to figure out exactly what settings are being used or to trouble-shoot a action that is not working properly. Who knew!!!

Preparing Image for Web

A famous portrait photographer suggested this tip to use after saving your image for print. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer to image and set Black tab to 0, Midtones to 0.95, and White tab to 255, then set Output Levels sliders to 5 and 250. Will look better on the web. To create a more matte appearance, set the Black tab to 14 to flatten out the shadows.

When Scanning Old Photos – What Resolution is Needed?

If you want to make an old image into a larger size, before scanning image create a New Document to the size of 8 X 10inches at 240 pixels/inch for example. Once created, go to Image -> Image Size and in the dialog box uncheck Resample Image box and enter one of the dimension sizes of the original old photo being scanned, say 2 ½ inches into the Width field.  Photoshop will show in the Resolution field the number needed for scanning (960 pixels in this case) to make this image 8 X 10 at 240 ppi. Set scanner to 960 pixels to get the image to look right for printing. This is ingenious!

Adjusting Skin Tones That Do Not Look Quite Right

I tried this tip a couple times and it works really well. Add a new layer above a person with bad skin tone and set the blend mode to Hue. Hue shifts just the tones when used on a New Layer. Sample new skin color and paint with 100% brush opacity and a low flow of no more than 2% on skin – it warms up the skin just a little. To adjust lips, use Hue blend mode on painted lip layer. Try using the Color blend mode if Hue is too subtle. By adding a little blue tone to this layer on skin that is too yellow, the skin can look much better.

Select and Mask Command

This command (to be used once a selection has been made) seems pretty much self-explanatory, but there a few things to consider when using this dialog. Did you know that if you hold the ALT key down while pressing the Refine Edge Brush, Brush Tool or the Quick Selection Tool, it will switch between the Add (+) and Remove (-) setting. I have been trying to use the X-key and it does not work. Apparently I forgot this was used in the Refine Mask dialog box. This is a very handy tip for me.

Also, when using Output Settings, check out your image with both the Decontaminate Colors on and off – it does not always create a good result. Note that in CS6, the Refine Mask dialog box actually has a slider where the amount of decontamination can be set – I really liked this slider but they have removed it in the Select and Mask Command dialog box. If you really want to use this feature in CC 2017 just click on the layer mask or create a selection, go to Select -> SHIFT + Select and Mask and the old Refine Mask dialog opens up. Now the Decontaminate slider is available. There is a slight controversy among some Photoshop gurus as to which dialog is best. I personally like the new Select and Mask as it has many more features, just not a slider for decontamination.

Once back in Photoshop if you missed some areas while in the dialog, just duplicate both the layer and layer mask several times to build up the selection.

Merging Layers and Blend Mode Issues

Have you ever noticed that after merging layers, the blend mode goes back to Normal? If a color shift occurs after merging, this is what has happened and the blend mode probably needs to be reset.

Sometimes when creating a stamped or composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top of the Layer stack, a slight color change occurs. This has driven me crazy on several occasions! By setting the stamped layer to Color blend mode, the image colors will go back to the original underlying layer color before the layer was created. This shift seems to occur after using several blend modes and layer styles on different layers with varying the opacities. There probably are other ways to fix this, but I find this tip works pretty well.

History Log Metadata

This is one tip I have used for a long time and it has saved me when I forgot what settings I applied. Create a text History Log of every step that done on an image by going to Edit -> Preferences -> General and check the History Log and the Metadata radial button. Now when you a apply for example a Levels (not as an Adjustment Layer), the settings used can be found by going to File – > File Info and selecting the Photoshop section (History tab in CS6 at top) – a list of everything done to that image will appear. In CS6 can be exported as a .txt file, but in CC need to select all the text (CTRL+A) and paste (CTRL+V) into a text editor like Notepad. Right now some of the settings from external plug-ins will show up in the settings , but this is not working on the newer ones. For example, it currently lists Topaz Adjust actual settings, but only lists that Topaz Texture Effects 2 was used but no settings. Google Nik plugins and On1 2017 products have the preset used listed but no setting info. Also, the actual brush and settings being used will not show up, but if a Tool Preset brush is used, it is listed without its settings. That can be very helpful too. This log stays with the PSD file so you can always go back to it, unlike the actual History Panel states and snap shots.

I hope some of these tips were helpful – not real hard things to do, but just handy to know! Have a nice weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Notes on Blanket Image: I wish I knew who was selling these beautiful blankets, but I am sure most of the Native American Festivals will have them for sale. In Lightroom used Kim Klassen’s Melancholy preset to give more of a wilderness feel right from the start. Did a little adjustment brush work on the blankets. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Restyle was opened and a Cold Frosty Day preset was applied with a few corrections. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Crisp Morning Run preset was applied next, set to Color blend mode and a layer mask was opened to remove some of the effect off the birds in particular. The Blend If sliders This Layer tabs were adjusted. A clean up layer was added to remove the price tags. Two Curves Adjustment Layers were opened, set to Luminosity blend mode, and one was set for darkening the image and one to lighten – then both layer masks were inverted to black and just areas that needed more emphasis were painted back. A Spotlight Layer was created, set to Overlay blend mode at 37% layer opacity. Next Nik Viveza 2 was added to add a little focal direction to the image. A Color Balance and Levels Adjustment Layers were added. A Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was applied. French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glorious Grunge Edging was used as a border with a dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between layers) to add color to it. It was a pretty long workflow but I liked the final result. These blankets were really nice!


Image of a Cape Griffon Vulture Mom and Baby at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWhile visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, I decided to take a spin around some of their other exhibits and see what was going on. In fact that is where the An Army Tortoise Tidbits Blog image started. Well not only are the Florida birds having babies, but so are some other bird inhabitants, the Vultures – in fact there were two chicks born in recent months.  Above is a wonderful Cape Griffon Vulture baby boy chick born on March 4th.  For some reason he is being raised by a foster mom (Sefara as seen in the image) and foster dad (Kwa) – I can honestly say they keep all the other birds away from him. He is only one of four hatched chicks in North America and all were born here. Below is a family portrait of the Hooded Vulture chick with her family. This baby was very quiet and I could hardly see her in my camera, but apparently she had spotted me. This baby girl was born on February 24rd and is sitting with her parents Ashaki and Bosco (the adult bird that acts a lot like her mother). It looks like the dad is wearing a tux quietly in the background!  Both vulture species are on the Endangered Species list. Lots of noise going on in this exhibit!
Enough about the birds – they are just so fascinating! Not a lot was done to the Cape Griffon Vulture image other than my overall workflow with a pretty good dose of Topaz (for website link, see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to pop those feathers just a little. (Here are the settings used – apply to images that are a little soft in places, especially on birds and their feathers: Small Details 0.60, Small Details Boost 0.12, Med Details 0.22, Med Details Boost 0.22, Large Details -0.02, Large Details Boost -0.08. I called this preset SJ Add Detail. Add a black layer mask (click in white mask and press CTRL+I) to the layer after exiting out of the plug-in and just paint back where needed in the image. Use a large low opacity brush like 20% and build up the effect to make it look natural; use a smaller brush on dark lines that need to be more emphasized. It is easy to overdo this so try adjusting the layer opacity to reduce the effect.) Used a couple Exposure Adjustment Layers on the eyes and beaks (see my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog), and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focus more onto the chick and less on the Mom. Used Matt Kloskowski’s subtle vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog). A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to emphasize just a couple colors in the image, keeping it mainly in a light sepia tone. Birds can be tricky when shooting – it seems like they are perfectly still, but they actually are moving a little bit of a wing or foot or something. When you get ready to process their images, it is easy to see. Birds are pretty amazing and agile.

For the Hooded Vulture Family portrait below, pretty much the same work process but without the desaturating effect. This image was actually not as good since they were way off to the side and I had to do a massive crop. Not much of the Topaz Detail 3 plugin effect was added into this image – just in a few places like with the dark area of the back bird and a few of the Mom’s  bird feathers.
Image of a Hooded Vulture Family with the chick at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWell hope everyone is celebrating a great Mother’s Day or at least giving your Mom’s a call! We only get one day a year to enjoy the kids we are so proud of, just like the Cape Griffon Vulture and Hooded Vulture Moms!…..Digital Lady Syd


View from Stirling Castle in ScotlandJust another quick post to pass on a pretty nifty short tutorial that Chris Spooner at Spoon Graphics posted this week. It is called How to Create a Water Painting Effect in Photoshop and it was pretty easy to follow. I have tried it out on a couple different images using different paper, painting brushes, and a few different filters after applying the ones he suggested. Since a Smart Object is created to get the base effect, images can be swapped out without changing the rest of the set up or border once created.

This image is one I took from Stirling Castle in Scotland. After applying the filters and adding a layer mask, a border was created using the McBad Brush 30 that Chris links to in his post for creating the watercolor effect border. In the Brush Panel, try changing the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of the brush to something pretty high like 70% to get some nice edge work on the border. For this image, a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer (with the Paper border layer turned off) was created on top of the layers but underneath the border paper. Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression 2’s Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset was applied and set to, of all things, Division blend mode at 0.50 opacity. It gave the image more of an overall watercolor effect. I think many of the Impression presets would work well with this technique. A New Layer was added and using Grut I Dusty Covet Brush, lines around the tops of the buildings were sketched in to add a bit of realism and definition to the roofs – then lowered the layer opacity to 80%. On another stamped layer (with the paper layer off) Topaz ReStyle was applied – this time I had a preset created a while ago, but there were probably 20 presets that looked good on it. It seemed to even out the colors that in the final image. To give the image a real watercolor look, Grut’s W Mud Puddle Watercolor Brush was used to extend out the edges of the image into the border with strokes and paint in some solid roof colors and tree areas. As a side note, Nicolai at GrutBrushes has some really good things going at his brush site: a free brush every week (I definitely take advantage of this as different media brushes are presented), a free Photoshop Brushes Sampler with lots of nice brushes and a free Watercolor Brush called Cherry Pectin that is also in the sampler. The Cherry Pectin brush would have worked great for painting border edges also. I think this made a huge difference from the slightly canned look the original tutorial supplied. The image was way too vivid for my taste as a watercolor, so a New Layer was filled with white above and set to 16% layer opacity to calm it down a bit. The last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the orange buildings in the lower left corner and the painted bridge.

Well, still taking it easy but wanted to share – hope you get a chance to try out this technique. Chris Spooner has several nice tutorials on his site you might also like. Later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Painting Effects from Actions-Part 1
A Little Watercolor Fun