This week posting another oldie but goodie from my Tidbits Blog and a newer image with some of my favorite newer filters. I loved the way the above image turned out – never expected it to be this pretty considering it was an image I snapped while standing on the street in front of our hotel. It is Nelson Monument (in center) and Acropolis (aka National Monument of Scotland on left corner) on Calton Hill – I did not get to visit this site but wish I had. This was not difficult to process once I got going. After cleaning up a rather boring image, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify was opened and a preset I call the John Barclay BuzSim Setting preset was used. I listened to one of John’s excellent videos on Topaz Labs and created this preset which has a very subtle result. (The settings are: Simplify: Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.19, Details Boost 1.00, and Details Size 0.20; Adjust: Brightness 0.01, Contrast 1.08, Saturation 1.03, Saturation Boost 1.15, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges: Edge Type – Color Edge Normal, Edge Strength 0.00, Simplify Edge 0.30, Reduce Weak 10.00, Reduce Small 0.20 and Flatten Edge 0.00.) Next I added 2 lil Owls (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Workshop 6 – Texture 1 which has the beautiful turquoise and light yellow sky color – the layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode. The beautiful text was supplied by my favorite Shadowhouse Creations – his Text Brush 5. I actually clipped a bright green Color Fill Adjustment Layer to the text (to clip just ALT+click between the two layers and the color fill adjustment layer will only affect the layer below) – then the text layer was set to 55% opacity. Another 2 Lil’ Owls Texture – texture 4 was used as an overlay frame. A light yellow Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to the texture file. A Curves Adjustment Layer where the red, green and blue channels were adjusted to get this slight vintage feel. The last thing done was to add a Color Fill Adjustment Layer to the whole image using a soft cream color (#c6c3bd) and the Nelson Monument was painted out in the layer mask so the eye is drawn to that area of the image.
This image from the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens in Ormond Beach, Florida, used the same Topaz Simplify preset by John Barclay and just used Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Facing Fast preset. This time the effect was removed from the foreground flowers and Nik Viveza 2 was used to add a little vignette effect to the image. Texture Effects does a really great job of giving vintage effects and it is always fun to try out the different presets and combinations by adding new sections to get some great results.
Had a lot of fun as usual – never get tired of this!…..Digital Lady Syd
I ran across this little brush technique in Advanced Photoshop Magazine No. 81’s DVD (several years old) in a PDF called Photoshop Uncovered: Forgotten Features. This particular tip was by designer/illustrator Radim Malinic of Brand Nu. I am not sure I have completely mastered his technique yet, but it was fun trying to figure out how he uses it to create some really great art.
Exactly what does setting a brush to a Linear Dodge (Add) mode in the Options Bar do? According to Radim, “As the color dodges, the overall shade goes lighter with every brush stroke.” Usually he tries to stick to just one color for his image, so this was my goal in my blog images. His basic technique involves creating a colored image, then desaturating the image, adjusting contrast with a Levels Adjustment, and adding in background textures and shapes.
On a New Layer with any brush selected, the Options Bar was set to Linear Dodge (Add) mode, Opacity 30% and Flow no more than 30%. Choose a darker shade of any color wanted to dominate your image. As you dab, colors will become brighter each time a stroke is overlapped – be careful not to overdo this effect as it is easy to get carried away. A New Layer is needed to get the effect as a white background layer will not show any strokes. If the last dab is too strong, go to Edit -> Fade Brush Tool to reduce the effect and change the blend mode for a better look if needed. The bright linear dodge strokes can be seen in the plants and giraffe in the bottom image below.
The Tych Panel shows how I created this image. I was attempting to try and just use a nice color of green to do all the painting in this image. The upper left image is what was initially created using several layers and various colors! This involved adding the background textures and creating a group of layers that contained my plant brushes. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top. Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to get a nice tone – this was merged down (highlight both layers and press CTRL+E) so now my main image is black and white. It was set to 94% layer opacity – that is why there is some slight color showing in the image. Therefore, a white filled New Layer was placed underneath so the colors below did not show through.
Now the fun began. Just started painting using the Linear Dodge (Add) mode in the Options Bar at 30% Opacity and 30% Flow. A light green was painted over the image. A giraffe silhouette brush was added and a layer mask was used to put some of the plants in front of his legs. On a New Layer painted in with the green colors on the giraffe – see the variation of the colors as the brush is dabbed over the same areas. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between layers) to some layers to soften the effect so it blends in better with the plants. 12 more layers were created to paint in the different object using different brushes. I found that by varying the brush Opacity but not the Flow over 30%, the various shades of the color could be easily obtained. Also the layer opacity or Edit Fade command can be used if the effect is just too strong. To finish up, Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust the focal point and add a slight vignette effect for drawing the eye. I decided the green was overwhelming the image as seen in the bottom part of the Tych Panel. Therefore a bright dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added. It was set to Color blend mode at 35% layer opacity. This seemed to balance out the over green to a level I liked as shown in the top image.
The above is another example of using this same technique. It was first painted in color and then turned to black and white before creating a New Layer and using Linear Dodge (Add) brush mode to paint with a cyan blue color in the image again. This technique does take a bit of practice to get a good result, but I do see a possible use for this type of brush in doing a regular painting. It is nice to just emphasize a certain area in an object using this method – in fact several digital painters use this method for dodging their images. It has been fun to try and paint with a monochromatic color scheme. Definitely have to think about what the values are in your image. Hope you get a chance to experiment with this brush mode and come up with some interesting results!…..Digital Lady Syd
Basically this blog is showing that filters or plug-ins do not have to be applied on a layer with the second one applied on top of the first one on the same layer, but rather they can be applied to the same original duplicated layer and by using layer masks the desired effects from can be inserted. This image above followed a workflow that followed my Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 and Topaz Clarity Together? Tidbits Blog from a few years ago. It had been a while since HDR Efex Pro2 (part of the free download from Google-Nik) was used so it seemed like a good time to try it out again. The original image from the Tidbits Blog is shown below. This image was taken yesterday at the 28th Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. The displays and costumes really give a nice variety for those who love photography (and the vendors and show organizers are some of the nicest people!). The focus area of the two teapots show more of the HDR plug-in effect and the rest of the image has more of the Topaz Clarity filter effect. Any plug-ins can be used this way, these are just what I was using for this image.
HDR Efex Pro 2
The image was first opened in Lightroom where it was brightened up just a bit. Then in Photoshop, the background was duplicated, converted to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), and HDR Efex Pro2 was opened from the Filters menu. Note: you do not have to be shooting HDR photos to use this plug-in – it works fine with just one image. (For info on how to use if shooting with more than one image, see my How To use Google (Nik) HDR Efex Pro 2 Blog.) This is another one of those huge plug-ins with lots of sliders and presets to play around with on your images so the Smart Object allows you to go back and adjust it if it look wrong (double click on the thumbnail in the Layer Panel). In this case the Outdoor 2 preset was applied. One of the best things in this plug-in is the Levels & Curves section where besides RGB and the individual channels, there is a the Luminosity Curve that can be adjusted – this was done for this image. The curve was pulled downward to get a nice overall effect. Then the Tonality section Structure slider was set to 31% and the Color Temperature was set to -20% and Saturation 19%. That was all that was done to this preset.
Now for the Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Clarity part. This is one of my favorite Topaz plug-ins partly because of the versatility in it. The HDR Efex layer was turned off and the background duplicated again and set just above the background layer. Since the HDR Efex layer had way too much contrast for the softer vintage effect I wanted, a preset that I created for painting was applied in Clarity. It totally softens the whole image but the colors looked really good. (Here are the settings if you are interested: Clarity Dynamics Micro Contrast -0.86, Low Contrast -0.86, Medium Contrast 0.63, and High Contrast 0.94; Tone Level Black Level -0.19, Midtones -0.36, and White Level 0.19; HSL Filter Hue – no changes; Sat Orange 0.06, Yellow 0.63, Green 0.13, Blue 0.25 0.25, and Overall -0.45; and Lum Orange 0.36, Yellow -0.34, Green -0.42, Blue 0.61, Purple 0.11, Magenta 0.75, and Overall -0.27 – all other colors were 0.00. Adjust these settings around if they do not quite fit the effect you want.)
The HDR Efex layer was turned on and a black layer mask was added (press ALT key while clicking the layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel). Just the areas where more contrast was needed was painted back into the image – mainly around the teapots where the focal point is. A round brush set to 50% opacity was used so edges were not too sharp.
Photoshop Brushes for Clean up
Some of the background in the curtains did not look so nice, so the brushes were brought out to paint in some colors and blend some colors on a New Layer. It is so handy to have a good Regular Brush and Mixer for clean up. A pastel with rough edges was used to paint over some greenish shadow colors that did not fit the image. The brush can be downloaded from SDW Haven Pastel Brushes Part 1 – it is the last brush or 11th brush in this free set. (These are the settings used for the brush: Brush Tip Shape: I like it as a small size so it is set to 8 pixels but enlarge it often, Angle 137 degrees, Roundness 100% and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics: Angle Jitter 42%; Texture – Rough located in PS Erodible Textures (load by clicking texture patter, then on the cog wheel and Load Erodible Textures, and set to Scale 87%, Brightness -45, Contrast 0, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50%, Depth Jitter 1%, and Control Off; and check Smoothing.) This brush also clean up funny colored edges nicely – just ALT+click in the image on the color to sample, and lightly paint in. I usually paint at 67% opacity with this brush.
Then an overall soft Mixer blender was used to mix up the edges. The brush I use is by David Belliveau from Paintable – here is a link to his free brushes and his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog. David does a great job explaining how to use brushes in Photoshop. On the clean up layers, I just kept going back and forth between the Regular and the Mixer brush adding color and blending until the color and edges look smooth. The Mixer also does a great job of softening lines that appear too sharp in the background. I use these two brushes all the time to both clean up images and paint in Photoshop.
Finishing Up the Image
Last steps involved adding on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 with adjustments to the Crisp Morning Run preset. A Spot Mask was used over the center pots so they were not affected as much by the plug-in. Duplicated the layer and applied Nik Viveza 2 to further sharpen the two middle teapots and add a little more saturation to that area. Duplicated the layer again and Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Silver Reflector filter coming from the left was applied – just to add a softer effect and emphasize where the light was. Using these three plug-ins one after the other is an example of applying them onto each other and no masking was involved. Therefore the effects of Texture Effects is in the image where Nik Viveza 2 was applied which is in the results of applying the Lens Effects filter. If you wanted to get down to the original Background effect, many masks were have to be created. Subtle but significant difference.
Overall HDR Efex Pro and Clarity are not a bad combination for getting some nice effects in Photoshop. Both images used the filters discussed above. Each filter was added on its own duplicated Background layer and then the parts of the image to be concealed were masked in or out on each layer. For the top image it just did not look as good when one filter was applied over the other one. This is really important to remember if you are liking the effect in two different filters – they do not have to both be applied over each other – just mask in or out what you like on separate layers. And do try out the brushes – they work really well together. Hope everyone is coping with the winter and staying warm. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd
For some reason I have been sort of fixated on how to create a nice wintry feel in an image without getting fake falling and unnatural looking snow. This week I will show a couple ways I use to create a more natural snow and piling up effect in my images. Its a lot in the brushes!
The image above is of a pretty red budded plant (unable to find the name in my resources) that was growing at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. In a short Corey Barker video called Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video, a fabulous brush was created to add the falling snow in exactly the places it needs to be. Corey gives very clear steps to creating this brush that uses PS Noise Filter, PS Gaussian Blur, a Levels Adjustment, and Gradient Tool to make the basic brush. Then changes are made in the Brush Panel to the Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Transparency, and Brush Tip sections. This brush was then saved as both a brush and Tool Preset – size is 1000 pixels. Corey uses this brush not for just snow but anywhere that particles are needed like fire sparks and rain effects.
Now to processing the image. Once some random flakes are added to the image, Corey suggested adding a subtle Motion Blur to the flakes (Angle 75 and Distance 11) which makes the flakes look more realistic without doing anything else. Add a New Layer and make the brush smaller (500 pixels) to build up more dense snow around the plant branches. The layer opacity can be controlled for each snow layer to give the effect wanted. Also layer masks can be added to remove flakes where unwanted. A stamped layer was placed on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Black & White Effects was opened. In the filter, the Local Adjustments brush section was used to bring back the color in the image where I wanted it. The filter’s Color Brush was used to paint in the red buds and using a lower opacity, the green leaves were painted in. This softened the background a lot but color could still be introduced – in PS the layer opacity was set to 76%. On a New Layer more snow was painted in using the smaller sized Particle Snow brush again. This is how the lower leaves show snow building up on the leaves. A basic Mixer brush was used on a New Layer to add dabs of white paint for snow – I used Fay Sirkis’s Pet Pastel Underpainting Highlight Photoshop brush (I can’t seem to locate a resource with her brushes right now). But any small sized Mixer brush (45 pixels) will probably work – in the Options Bar set the mixer combination field to Dry and turn on the Load the Brush After Each Stroke with the color set to the snow color and just paint in the snow. Next a text layer with some icicles hanging from the letters were added on layers above using the free Frostbo Ice Brush 01 for the icicles. The last step was a Levels Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast. I feel like this plant looks like it is in a “winter wonderland” and not a sunny Florida garden.
This image of the St. Johns Tower Entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle turned out to be lots of fun to convert to a spooky winter image. The original image was taken on a sunny day in August so it has definitely been winterized. First Topaz Clarity was used to sharpen the image overall. Then the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter, Topaz Glow, and Lucis Pro were all used to get a really sharp and correct image. At this point I was just trying out different plug-ins and this is what I ended up using. Now the snow was painted in. A free set of very basic star brushes was downloaded by KeReN-R on DeviantArt and 4 brushes were used to paint in a lot of the snow (Sample Brushes 4 – see next paragraph on how to adjust this brush, 6, 8, and 19). Also Grut’s FX Inky Leaks Bottle Topple and Romato brushes were used to give the wet slick look on the street and steps (many brushes in this set would make great snow brushes). This step was a lot of fun to do! At this point Corey’s Particle Brush could be used, but instead I took the image into Topaz Texture Effects 2 and used the Winter Day I preset which contains a snow texture. A Spot Mask was used on the entrance so it could be adjusted a little differently. Back in PS the layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur with radius set to 250 pixels to really blur the image. Then it was set to the Subtract blend mode. The same entrance area was painted out in a layer mask. This darkened the image down immensely. On a New Layer white was painted in the entrance and set to overlay blend mode. Another New Layer for snow was used and some snow effect painting around the doorway in front using the Grut Bottle Topple brush. On a stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to really pull out the lighting effect in the doorway and to darken down the on the street. There was a lot of trial and error on this image and I personally believe that is how to actually pull this look together.
I am using Sample Brush 4 in the KeReN-R Star Brushes a lot to get the nice piling up effect of snow. These settings were changed in the Brush Panel to get a really great snow smoothing and piling brush: In Brush Tip Shape: Change size from 773 px to 150 px and leave Spacing at 25%; check Shape Dynamics and set Angle Jitter to 9%; and leave all other settings alone. In the Options Bar turn on the icon next to the Opacity amount so pen pressure will increase or reduce the amount of snow added. This creates a really nice brush to build up snow in any image.
Above is an image I painted showing how a duck sees the beauty in his home during a light snow that we humans do not get a chance to appreciate. It was initially painted in Corel Painter by first adding a lot of the basic elements and grasses. Just enjoying painting at this point. Then the image was opened in PS and many more details were added. In this case the snow was painted in using Corey’s Particle Brush and the snow was built up using the Snow Build Up brush (sampled brush 4) and sampled brush 6. Many more plant elements were added along with the duck. Topaz ReStyle was used to change the color scheme from a warmer one to a color for a more wintry look. This is a good example of how to use these snow brushes when doing creative painting.
It is very handy to have the snow in brush format as opposed to a large vector overlay. I hope you will try creating these two basic snow brushes if you enjoy making wintry scenes. I am still experimenting with them, and trying out other brushes. I like the overall effect of these two brushes and am using them a lot to just add a little wintry effect to a cooler image. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd
This week just a few details and free goodies to start your year.
The trees, reflection and small plants were painted in Corel Painter using mainly Karen Bonaker’s wonderful free painter brushes – so many choices here so I will not go through them all – actually do not remember them all! I am sure most Painter people have all these brushes, but if you are new to Painter, check out the link for a great website and to get a huge assortment of great brushes (and Karen’s classes are terrific – she usually includes new brushes and teaches how to adjust them). The image was saved as a PSD file to be opened up in Photoshop.
In PS a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) composed of the Painter layers was created and then duplicated. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects 2 was applied to the top layer to create the basic soft background (used Dingy Cream preset and made tweaks).
On another Stamped Layer on top, Corel ParticleShop (these brushes can also be bought and used in Painter) was opened and the Wild Grain brush and the Fur brush were used to add a little more detail to the image. What is really nice is that only the changes to the layer are brought down on the layer that was duplicated – it was set to 44% layer opacity and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the ParticleShop layer. The Adjustment Layer was needed as the colors from ParticleShop were a little too vivid and needed to be slightly desaturated.
Jai Johnson’s free Flying Birds overlay was added – a few birds were painted out with a layer mask and a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer using a gravelly stone looking pattern was clipped to the birds to give them some texture. Set the bird layer to Overlay blend mode at 80% layer opacity.
On top Texture Times Bokeh Number 5 was set to Overlay blend mode at 48% layer opacity.
A couple text layers using the free font called Winter Holidays by Vintage Voyage Design Company from Creative Markets – need to get on their newsletter list to get all kinds of wonderful free PS items each week. A Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer words and added a red and gold Pattern Overlay style to fill font with color and a 2 pt Stroke style around the letters. Used a layer mask to paint out parts of the lettering – note to make this look right be sure to check the “Layer Mask Hides Effects” in the Blending Options section.
A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for contrast – pulled the curve down a little bit.
On a Stamped layer the free Nik Viveza 2 plug-in was applied using only one Control Point on the tree leaves to add a little more detail with the Structure slider.
Added a Black & White Adjustment Layer and adjusted mainly just the Reds to pop the image – viewed in B&W then converted to color by setting the adjustment layer to Luminosity blend mode.
It is not really as complicated as it seems. Many steps that were pretty much my regular workflow. At least take a minute to check out some of the wonderful people who still supply us Photoshop Nuts with free products that make our images unique. Hope you have a great New Year!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I wanted to do a quick blog on how to get that Holiday glow look that is so nice to have in Christmas cards or Holiday Facebook/Instagram images. The above is definitely a composite image. I will say this image took several hours to get to a point where it began to look like the image I envisioned.
When I started out, I knew I wanted to do a Christmas theme and wanted a child to be part of the image. So first the image of the Native American boy was found from in a batch of pictures taken several years ago from a festival. I love to go to these festivals as the costumes and people are just wonderful! The boy had to be removed from the background, so in CC2017, the Select and Mask panel was used to get a really nice cut-out. I always have to go back into the layer mask and do a bit more tweaking. The mask was applied and this layer was moved into a New Document to start the composite. Since PixelSquid is my go-to program for finding objects, the reindeer and wolf were downloaded from them and lined up in the document with the child. (See my How To Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog.)
Glow Effect 1: Now for some Glow – highlighted the reindeer layer and took it into Corel ParticleShop to add some pizazz and turn him into Rudolf. Last week I did a blog on this, and am using the same brush set here. (See my Intro to Corel ParticleShop Brushes for Photoshop blog.) The Cluster brush was used to add the glitter to the antlers. The Flame brush was used to add some snowy feel to the ground. The Light brush was used on the nose to get a shining light – added red color first, then yellow and a dab of white to finish it off. The Hair brush was used to create the background Christmas tree with the Cluster brush set to white to add snow on it. Back in PS just the changes were on their own layer. This plug-in is actually very easy and a lot of fun to use!
Next some grass was added and a background texture (French Kiss’s le Petit Chateau – for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was placed just above the white original background layer. The neutral color fit the image as too much color would have drawn the eye away from the story.
Glow Effect 2: This week Pretty Photoshop Actions gave away a really nice Photoshop Action called Holiday Magic. (Sign up for the newsletter to get some great give-aways all the time!) This is a really nice action but their video needs to be watched to really understand how it works. It contains overlays, brushes and the 3 major actions. In the above, the Book Glow action was run first, which added the extra lightness around the nose to indicate a large glow. Next the Brush Applicator Action was run where the fancy snow flakes were added around Rudolf and the tree using their supplied brushes. There is one trick you need to use if you want to run the action in the middle of your workflow. At the point where the actions needed to be added, I had to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and name the layer “Background” before running the action. The action will be looking for the Background layer for it to run. Once I finished up with the action, this Background layer was deleted so more editing could be done on all the layers.
Lots of clean up layers were added to get the exact color effects. Several Color Fill Layers (set to Color blend mode and various layer opacities) were used along with many Curves Adjustment Layers to tweak the contrast. What really brought the effect together was creating a stamped layer on top and applying Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (I so wish this plug-in were still available as it is really incredible), and set to a high Smooth of 21 and just a little Detail adjustment of 189. Then this layer was set to 60% layer opacity so it was not too soft.
Last steps were adding the now free Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focal points, a Curves Adjustment Layer with a Red Channel Luminosity layer mask (see my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog), and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode to make sure tones were correct (see my How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog).
I do not expect you to do all these steps, but I wanted to give a good example of what can be done with a few nice tools. The Glow effect got me thinking about what wondrous Holiday effects could be achieved with composites. I find creating composites takes a lot of work but I always feel good about them when finished.
This rose is a pretty basic example of a Christmas Glow that can be achieved pretty quickly. This rose was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. It is a painted image using regular and mixer brushes in Photoshop – nothing too hard about painting this image so no special brushes were required. After painting, used Photoshop’s Select and Mask to select the flower. The layer mask was applied and two of my Corel Painter backgrounds were added under the cut-out flower.
Glow Effect 1: Once again, Corel ParticleShop was opened up and this time the Cluster brush was set to Size 156 and Opacity 45% set to a glow yellow color – painted around the flower to get the lit up effect. Used the Eraser brush in the plug-in to remove any mistakes. If the colors look a little strong on the PS layer, use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it (ALT+Click between the layers to clip) to the layer to desaturate just the ParticleShop layer. Mine looked real orange.
Glow Effect 2: The glow was just not quite enough for me. Aaron Blaise’s Canvas Texture Brush Set 42 3 is a brush that has a slight edge around it so the strokes will give a glow effect when used with a lighter color. It amazes me where you can find that special brush from ones you already own! The foreground color was set to a bright light yellow and on a New Layer, the Cluster brush lines were painted over again. This layer was then adjusted down to 95% layer opacity.
My snow overlay was set to 32% and can be downloaded free at my Deviant Art site. I think this gives yet another nice Holiday card effect that you might be able to use.
Know everyone is very busy at this time of year, but hope you got a few good ideas for adding a little Holiday Cheer to some of your images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I just felt like pulling together a little image so here is a little montage that uses several different media. I wanted a natural feeling to the image so I tried to use natural looking colors, textures and brushes to get the total effect. (For explanation of the difference between montage, composite, and collage, see my How to Create a Quick Montage blog.) Think I have a few new tips for this tutorial.
To do this type of image you need to create a selection. Selections were needed to create both the brushes used in this image and for adding the elephant and palm trees removed from other images.
Creating Brushes using Vectors or Objects
First a plant layer was created just because they looked pretty. These brushes were created from various vector flowers and plants collected from free sources on the internet. Try checking out Creative Markets and Design Cuts for some wonderful weekly free vectors. They also both have inexpensive sets that can be bought. Many scrapbook websites also have some great vector art that can be converted into brushes but be sure to check out the usage license. If you want a nice set to try the technique below on, download Frostbo’s 16 Aquatic Plants PNG Brush Set at DeviantArt to turn into nice brushes.
So how do you do this?
- First the object needs to be placed on its own layer. If the object is one layer with a solid color background, it can be selected by going to Select -> Color Range. Then select the background color and click the Invert box to select the object. Then press CTRL+J to put object on its own layer.
- All brushes are created using shades of black and white. Therefore set foreground/background to default colors – Black/White by pressing the D key.
- CTRL+Click on the thumbnails of the object layer to select it, then ALT+Backspace to fill the selection with a solid black color. Or to add a little variety to the image, on a New Layer paint over the selected areas with shades of gray to add some interest in the object. Or after selecting and placing on its own layer (CTRL+J), the Object can be converted to a black and white object by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Black & White Adjustment Layer – adjust sliders to get some interesting texture effects for the brush and say OK. Need to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top to create brush if using the B&W Adjustment Layer technique.
- Now select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and place around the Object.
- The last step is to go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. It will now appear at the bottom of the Brush Preset Panel.
Use this brush on a New Layers so the strokes can be adjusted, transformed, change blend modes, or whatever you want to do with the layer. I used Frostbo Aqua 12 to create a brush by selecting as above using a Black & White Adjustment Layer to leave in detail, and then changed the settings in the Brush Panel to the following: Brush Tip Shape – Size 400 px and Spacing 108%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 9% and Angle Jitter 3% with Flip X Jitter and Brush Projection checked; Brush Texture using a Cold Press Pattern chosen in the drop-down panel with the little arrow (this is a small black and white patterned texture – try different ones to get a look you like), Scale 150%, Brightness 28, Contrast -10, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, and Depth 100% (if no effect is seen from the texture, try changing the Mode like to Height, and the sliders – watch the Preview Panel for changes); Color Dynamics – Check apply per Tip, Foreground/Background Jitter 100%, Saturation Jitter 20%, and Purity -37; and Smoothing on. Use a couple of nice plant colors and give it a try. It gives a nice light and breezy floral effect. This brush was used to fill the middle area of the plants in the image above. Below is an example of what the brush looks like with a dark red and greenish tone and with black and white. If the stroke appears too light, change the blend mode of the brush to Multiply or Linear Burn in the Options Bar to darken it. These brushes may take a while to create one you like, but once you find one, it is so nice to have these to give your own unique feel to an image!
Using Quick Mask to Create Image Object Selections
Several different ways of selecting can be used , but I really like using the Quick Mask mode (the little icon located right under the foreground/background color icon on the Tool Bar or just press the Q key) when the object is not that large and not too complicated. When painting with a Regular brush, a selection will be created showing the red overlay which represents the selection. Just press Q again or the icon to exit and the selection will be seen as dotted ants. If your selection comes out wrong, double click on the icon and make sure it is set to Color Indicates Selected Areas. Of course there are many different ways to do selections, but this is my favorite for adding small objects. The elephant image was selected this way from an image taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and actually looks much happier placed in my image. Also the Palm Trees are a favorite object taken from one of my older Florida images.
Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers to Add Texture to Objects
The interesting birds are a free PNG file from Jai Johnson’s The Daily Textures (scroll to the bottom of blog to find download). A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+Click between layers to clip adjustment layer so it only affects the birds in image) to get the soft effect. To find the Pattern Adjustment Layer, go to the bottom of the Layers Panel and click on the half black and half white circle – then choose Pattern Fill. In this case a turquoise/blue watercolor pattern was chosen as a pattern and set to a Scale of 120%. The pattern can be moved by dragging in the image so the pattern is lined up just right. If you do not have a pattern you like, open up a JPG texture file in PS, then select the whole texture (CTRL+A) and go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Now the texture appears at bottom of the pattern list to add as an effect with the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (or it can also be used for the Brush Texture in the Brush Panel or the Pattern Overlay Layer Style effect). Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers creates some very nice effects when clipped to a black and white brush layer or vector layer. In this case, the bird file was a solid black PNG layer so adding the variegated watercolor effect created some very nice subtle detail in the flying birds.
Creating a Reflection
A reflection of the elephant and palm trees was created by duplicating their object layers, then choosing Free Transform (CTRL+T). By holding down the SHIFT key and dragging from the top straight down, the image can be pulled upside down to any length needed. If the water is shallow, the reflection will have more color in it. Above the water is shallow so the layer opacity was set to 49% to keep it soft but with some color from the original object. A round brush with grain it was used to paint in some water in a bluish color.
One of my orange and yellow colored Corel Painter textures was added underneath in Overlay blend mode to warm up the image a little. The texture border is from Kim Klassen‘s Nested Frame set to 80% layer opacity. This was after the texture was taken into Select -> Color Range and the center color removed – this created a border effect instead of placing the whole texture on the image. I am not sure this texture is still available – it is a shame since she creates very subtle soft textures that give images a slightly different feel. The now free Nik Viveza 2 was used to set the elephant as the focal point. Some clouds were added on a New Layer using Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (these are fabulous!) – using a soft a beige color and not blue or white to match the image. The last step was to open Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects’ Grain filter (set to Amount of 0.48 and Size 0.47). Adding just a little grain to everything can really soften the object edges and blend the objects to make the image look like it was all in the original setting.
It really is a bit of a process to pull all this together, but it is fun to do. It took me several hours to actually create the above image. I made several wrong-turns before I got the effect I liked. The experimentation can give some really surprising results. Check out some of my older blogs below if you want some more ideas. Hope this helped you out a little – have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Springtime Wishes from Betsy
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
How to Create an Image From Nothing!