Since I have reached this major milestone, I decided this week I would show a few examples of what I use the most in Photoshop and what is the most fun for me when using Photoshop. In some of these cases, I will be mentioning certain products or people but that is mainly because I really like what they do – they do not know me. Also, no external plug-ins will be discussed here.
- Photoshop’s Merge to HDR 32-bit ability that can be adjusted in Lightroom 4.1 (see my blog New Lightroom and Photoshop 32-bit Processing Capability)
- Photoshop’s Puppet Warp magic (see Straightening with Puppet Warp!)
Several things were done in Photoshop to process this image of a sailboat model of the USS Constitution located at The Casements in Ormond Beach, Florida. The most important is that a 32-bit tone-mapped image was created in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR, saved as a TIFF file, and then brought into Lightroom 4.1’s Develop module using the sliders to bring out all the details. This now makes Photoshop’s HDR processing on par with several of the other HDR software programs. The TIFF image goes back into Photoshop to finish up using another one of my favorite tools – Puppet Warp – to straighten out the extreme warping in the original image (it was actually applied twice). It was a difficult image to work on since it has a square glass encasement and the horizontal louvered blinds in the background. Just using the arrow keys is sometimes enough to push and pull the image pins the correct amount and Puppet Warp works much better than Lens Correction or the new Adaptive Wide Angle filters for me. Puppet Warp can be used in a Smart Object for readjusting later if needed.
- Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel for Photoshop CS5 and CS6 (see Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!)
I am slowly really getting into textures – they just do so much for a boring image. The texture above was created using one of the best panels you can apply to Photoshop and that is Dr. Brown’s (may be the top Photoshop guru of all time and works for Adobe) Paper Texture Panel – biggest time saver for anyone that likes to experiment with textures! This is one feature I use all the time and can’t believe I used to go through my textures individually to try them out. To really enhance this process, create a folder on your desktop that contains several sub-folders to place copies of your favorite textures. He recommends keeping these folders to around 20 textures as it takes a while to load if it is much bigger. I have sub-folder on textures I created, my favorite textures I use all the time, and a few on textures I have downloaded or bought. You can switch folders very quickly in the panel. This image used Paul Grand’s Scratches Texture and Gavin Hoey’s beautiful grunge frame 1. I am also putting a plug in here for my favorite texture guy, ShadowHouse Creations, who offers all kinds of beautiful textures for free, and I use them all the time. I reference his textures in many of my older blogs.
- Photoshop Brushes including the wonderful Mixer Brushes! (see Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes)
Those wonderful brushes in Photoshop! My very first blog featured the above image where I actually used a Photoshop Mixer Brush to paint in the petals of the flowers. This is still one of my favorite painted images – the Oleander flowers in the original were not near as pretty. The background was a Karen Sperling texture called 08Sperling (I believe this now has to be purchased – not sure how I got it) that added was a very delicate complement to the image. She is actually a Corel Painter Master and does some wonderful things in that program.
- The Curves Adjustment Layer (see I Didn’t Know That! Curves Adjustment Layers)
Totally indispensable! The last step I always do before I save an image. A few months ago I viewed a short video tutorial at Kelby Training called Mastering Curves: Adjusting Tonality by Ben Wilmore, another great Photoshop guru, who teaches how to use Curves correctly. (I have found the Kelby Training tutorials to be the best you can find on every aspect of photography and photoshop.) The basic thing to know about Curves is that by selecting the hand tool in the top left of the adjustment panel and dragging straight up in the image it lightens it up, and down darkens it. If you get two dots close and rather flat on a Curve line, you will lose detail. A black layer mask can be created to target just the areas you want changed. It is a pretty simple technique but can improve an image quickly. Also you can save Curve settings if you want to apply them again. The image above of the beautiful birds in the Spring at the Rookery used several Curves Adjustment Layers to match the tones for the composite.
- Layer Styles to create simple framing effect (see Digital Lady Syd’s Free Layer Style Frames).
I have been using this Double Edge Frame layer style a lot on my images – gives a nice clean look with colors that can be sampled from the image. Also plain black borders can easily be created. To download this layer style for free or directions on how to create it, see my blog referenced above. There are many other uses for layer styles that I love, but I use the frames the most. Also a couple textures were added here with Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel.
- Smart Objects (see Black and White Photo or Not? Give It a Try on That Difficult Image)
I love the way you can go back in and fix your settings if you do not like the way they look. Most of the plug-ins I use have Smart Object capability and this is why I use them. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back into Nik’s Viveza 2 and adjusted my control points! Just another great Photoshop feature. The image above of the Hilton Time Share swimming pool on the Big Island in Hawaii used Smart Objects for both the Nik HDR Efex Pro using Granny’s Attic preset and Viveza 2. Also two Curves Adjustment Layers were used.
I could go on and on about all my favorite features I love. The above are some of the ones I use the most. I thought about writing on the new Defringe section in Lightroom 4.1 and Adobe Camera Raw that works wonders on this problem – better than any of the noiseware software available for controlling the ugly fringe problem. The new sliders in both are much improved and both now do a great job on reducing noise too. Also the Graduated Filter is much improved. Back in Photoshop I love being able to use LAB mode to sharpen some of my images selectively. Content-Aware tools cannot be beat but I still use the plain old Clone Tool the most. And the improved Sharpen Tool is fabulous for those little areas that need a detail boost. I even love the Color Replacement Tool that hardly no one uses! And all the blend modes just add so much to an image. Needless to say, there is a lot to like about Photoshop and so many ways to do things. I guess the real fun is learning new ways to use it and that is why I blog! Hope you have enjoyed some of what I have learned these past couple years!…..Digital Lady Syd
If you love Photoshop and you don’t follow what Russell Brown is doing, you need to start right now. I do believe a lot of people are Photoshop gurus but Russell Brown is at the top of the stack – partially because he works for Adobe and helps develop all these cool things we love. Well he is back again with one of his great scripts – this time one that creates a panel to add a texture, resize it to fit your image, and set a blend mode for you all within a single click! This is brilliant! Flypaper Textures has graciously supplied us Photoshop folks with 12 absolutely beautiful textures to try out on your photos in the panel, which is what you are seeing in all the images in this post. (For the above image, Paper Texture Touchstone using Overlay blend mode at 73% opacity, Paper Texture Creme Anglaise using Hard Light blend mode at 88% opacity and a layer mask to lightly paint out some of the effect on the flower details, and a Color Fill Adjustment layer using color dcdf91 set to Multiply blend mode at 11% opacity were used to create this look.) See my blog links at bottom for other Russell Brown creations.
Above is an example of a landscape type image that also does well with textures. (All blend modes were set to Overlay and stacked with Paper Texture Creme Anglaise at 63% opacity, then Paper Texture Dawn Grunge set to 56% opacity, and Paper Texture Muscatel set to 45% opacity. Next Topaz Simplify – see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website – plug-in was used to get a more painterly effect.)
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel is now called Adobe Texture Pro Panel and allows other texture folders to be used, but still contains the beautiful Flypaper textures. Below is what the interface looks like after you add the panel. In case you cannot see it, the top field is for the blend mode you wish to select.
If you click the Randomizer button at the bottom, it will select two textures and stack them to give some combinations you might not have thought to put together. This panel only works with Photoshop CS5 and CS6 (the screen shot above is from the new beta Photoshop CS6 interface). These textures work well with flowers.
(This image used Paper Texture Creme Anglaise using Color Dodge blend mode at 36% and Paper Texture Apple Blush using Overlay blend mode at 100% opacity with a layer mask and lightly painting out the effect on the leaves.) I changed this same image and used a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer and Photo Filter Adjustment Layer to get brown and pink tones. Very similar look but different colors – try it!
If you like textures on your images, this is going to be a major time-saver and will let you try some new combinations of textures very quickly. I am already loving this panel. And now Russell has created an update to add in your own textures (see my blog link above). There is plenty here to keep you busy!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose – Uses Russell Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel
Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script – Russell Brown’s great script that lets you place a layer back into ACR once Photoshop is opened
Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes – contains link to Russell Brown tutorial called “Clone Painting Basics”
Tips for Flower Textures
Soft-Look Flowers Using Textures
Why I Love OnOne’s Perfect Layers!