Anything Photoshop or Photography

Posts tagged “Pixel Bender

2012 Inexpensive Gifts for the Photoshop Lover on Your List

Last year I did this blog and felt that it would be a good idea to list a few more reasonably priced gift items that you might not know about. I hope you find it useful for that perfect stocking-stuffer or gift for your favorite Photoshop user. These are all items I personally own and recommend for your use.  Also, scroll down to the Totally Cheap Corner for some free great gift ideas! So here we go!

1. TOPAZ ADJUST 5 FILTER – ($50)

I am keeping my number 1 from last year as my number 1 for this year too. This plug-in is the best and this company is the best – once you buy any of their products, all updates are free – who does that in this day and age? It was a hard choice to choose just one to showcase as I use most of their plug-ins regularly. Topaz Adjust is wonderful as it gives that HDR feel to an image even if it is not an HDR and now there are more choices than ever for creating this look. If you are an artistic person, try their newly updated Topaz Simplify 4 – totally fun to use! And the Black and White Effects is really good!  Topaz Adjust (see sidebar for website at my Tidbits Blog) using the Vintage Grunge IV preset was applied below without the vignetting. Otherwise just my usual workflow in both Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6. It was taken recently at the 39th Annual Daytona Turkey Run in the infield of the Daytona International Speedway – it is the largest antique auto show in the U.S.

2. FRENCH KISS COLLECTIONS – ($8 to $60)

Leslie Nicole of French Kiss Collections has some of the most beautiful and unique textures. She offers many free textures to try out and several inexpensive sets you can download. She has some good video tutorials on how to use her textures. Below are some bougainvillaeas that use one of her textures and one of her overlays. (For more information on how it was processed, see my Tidbits Blog Checking Out French Kiss Textures.)

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8474/8114780763_31fe9bd42e.jpg

3. PRESET VIEWER BREEZE PROGRAM – ($20)

Once again I am recommending this little program. I would be lost without the Preset Viewer Program. When you need that special brush to load into Photoshop and cannot remember which set is it in, this program will open them up to view within seconds to help you find what you need. Definitely a real time-saver. It also reads patterns, fonts, jpgs, shapes, styles, and swatches. A great addition for speeding up your Photoshop workflow. I often have it open while working on an image to see which brushes I need to load. Below is a screenshot of how my program looks when open – I have several folders where I store extra brush presets. These are my cloud set brushes that can be downloaded for free at my Deviant Art site.

4. CREATING ART WITH MACRO IN NATURE E-BOOK – ($14.95)

If you like taking Macro images, or even if you don’t know if you do, Mike Moat (one of the best macro photographers around) has an E-Book called Creating Art with Macro in Nature that is terrific! I learned so much from this 184-page pdf book that covers everything you need to know with beautiful images to show you the results. Very enjoyable read. His website Tiny Landscapes also has very helpful information on it. Below is an example of using some of Mike’s tips to create a nice Macro image.

5. THE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY BOOKS – 1 THROUGH 4 – ($13 and up)

Scott Kelby (need I say anymore?) started creating “quick tip” Digital Photography Books a while back and this year he released his fourth. They are all loaded down with lots of photography and Photoshop tips to make shooting any kind of image painless. He covers every kind of shot and has many recipes sprinkled throughout the books to help with processing. I have totally enjoyed all of them as they are a quick read – you can look up whatever you want to shoot at the moment and get the quick tip for taking the image. The HDR image below is a shot from my hotel room in Orlando while attending Photoshop World (these are a blast to attend if you have not done so yet) a few years ago that follows the tip “Shoot From Up Really High” in Book 3. I just checked the price on his books and they are quite reduced from the cost on the cover – very good buys!

6. THE FADER PLUGIN FOR LIGHTROOM – (now $10)

I did a blog on this cool little plug-in program back when it first came out. (See Great Free Plug-in for Lightroom – The Fader!) They have since upgraded it but it is the same basic program and I find I use it all the time. The basic concept is that when you apply a preset in Lightroom, it is applied at 100% – that is your only choice. Using this Fader plug-in, you can set it to any amount up to 150% and you get a live view of how it looks while adjusting the one slider. It is absolutely ingenious! The image of the mum below used Photoshop Guy Matt Kloskowski’s Wedding Fairytale Dark Edge preset applied to it at 115% using the Fader. Then an adjustment brush adding the slight yellow color for the centers was added. The texture is Painted Textures Taupe Canvas, French Kiss PhotoStudio2 Overlay ( from No. 2 above), and my free SJ-Snow1 Overlay.

7.  THE ARTIST QUARTER (TAQ) WATERCOLOUR BRUSHES – (around $30)

As I have always said, I am no painter but I just love dabbling. So when Dr. Russell Brown (my Photoshop hero) and Tim Shelbourne (a wonderful artist) came up with their Artist Assistant panel, I fell victim. The Watercolour Assistant Panel is free for Photoshop CS6 and can be downloaded from Dr. Brown’s Scripts page. I can tell you it takes practice to be successful at this, and I have not mastered it yet, but using Tim’s TAQ Watercolour Cloning Brushes definitely helps to create a nice watercolor feel from an image. If you are interested in painting watercolor, check out his website and his brushes. I hope to do a future blog on this technique since it really is a lot of fun to do.

8.  STEADEPOD CAMERA ACCESSORY – ($29.95)

How many times have you been out shooting and wished you had a tripod with you? Unless I plan on going somewhere that is easy go with my car, I usually just wing it. When I went to Photoshop World a couple years ago, this was one of the items in the vendor area. I bought a Steadepod and I now carry it with me whenever I shoot. It may not be a great as a tripod, but it sure beats having nothing. What a life-saver! and fairly inexpensive. This is one of those gadgets you wonder how you ever got along without it. It sets up very quickly and you can get those wonderful HDR landscape and indoor shots you want – and no one says you cannot use it in some places where tripods are not allowed!

9.  LIGHTROOM 4 UNMASKED E-BOOK – ($20)

Recently I decided that I needed to get a new Lightroom reference book since the latest version has been updated a lot. When Craft & Vision issued a notice that a new E-book on Lightroom was available for a reasonable price, I decided to give it a try. Piet Van den Eynde does an excellent job with this Lightroom 4 Unmasked E-book. It is 313 pages long and covers everything, and from a fresh perspective. Besides a Table of Contents which links through properly, he has a Cases page with links that answer basic questions and offer new techniques. Also check out Craft & Vision’s other E-books – David duChemin (a really great photographer) and Piet have several listed. These E-books are great reads at reasonable prices.

10. LIGHTROOM PRESETS BY DAVID duCHEMIN – ($10)

Speaking of David duChemin, he came out with a set of 36 Lightroom Develop Presets and instructions on how to use them. I bought them as I really liked the Milford Greens presets and several of his Black and White presets are now my favorites. This is a very handy set and reasonably priced (approx $0.25 a preset). The Hawaiian Boy and Turtle Sculpture below uses one of the beautiful Milford Greens presets, then The Fader plug-in (see No. 6 above) was opened and applied at 115% before finishing up in Photoshop.

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8064/8238688964_bbfd5f52c3.jpg

…..

TOTALLY CHEAP CORNER!

11. SHADOWHOUSE CREATIONS – LARGE VARIETY AND BEAUTIFUL TEXTURES – ($0 but he deserves donations!)

Jerry Jones of Shadowhouse Creations is one of the most generous people in the texture community. His textures are fabulous with a large variety from which to select. He often adds good examples and details on how to use the set he is featuring. He also creates brushes, layer styles, overlays, and actions. This is a “must have” bookmark for anyone who dabbles in the artistic aspects of Photoshop. The pink daisies are treated with two of my very favorite textures from Shadowhouse Creations: Marshmellow Skies set to Normal blend mode at 72% opacity and Oil Painting 1 set to Hard Light at 26%.

https://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7175/6813181699_a95ea3bef8.jpg

12.  SEVERAL RUSSELL BROWN PANELS – ($0)

I mentioned one of these in No. 7 above – Russell Brown’s panels are the best! Download them all from Dr.Brown’s Scripts page.

  • The one I use the most is the Adobe Paper Texture Panel. This is a quick and easy way to try several textures on top of your image quickly – it sizes them and sets them to any blend mode you want to see. See my blog Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated! for more info. I noticed he does not have the CS5 version posted anymore.
  • Another panel I really like is the Edit Layers in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) panel for Photoshop CS6. (Scroll down the page to get the same as an equivalent script for CS5.) This is very useful, especially if you use Lightroom. It saves time if you need to fix something in Camera RAW quick (like remove noise or Chromatic Aberration or adjust orange which is not in Photoshop) and you do not want to go back into Lightroom to adjust it.  Basically all you have to do in CS6 to access this script is to open the panel and click on the button  – it immediately turns your layer into a Smart Object so you can edit again later if needed, and takes you right into ACR. For CS5 you will have to go to the File -> Scripts -> Dr. Brown’s Edit Layer in ACR to run. Check out my blog Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script for more information on this.
  • As already mentioned above, Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! is another fun free panel to try out! It takes you through several steps – like a Photoshop action that stops at each step. It also takes some practice but if you are a little artistic, you will love it. See my blog Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! on how to do this.
  • And once again, the Watercolour Assistant Panel is free for Photoshop CS6 only – see No. 7 above for more on this.

The flowers below were created using the Photoshop CS5 Painting Assistant.

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8454/8008222158_bd9608f384.jpg

13. PIXEL BENDER (FOR PHOTOSHOP CS5 ONLY) – ($0)

This item has been around a while – is a great little plug-in offered over at Adobe Labs Downloads that contains several different filters, and others can be added in. Click on 7. on download page to get to the Adobe Pixel Bender Exchange to find what they have to offer. I am so sorry that it cannot be used with Photoshop CS6 because some of my favorite effects were in this little plug-in. That is one reason why both CS6 and CS5 are on my computer – I still use this plug-in. When you download the plug-in, you get the really nice Oil Paint Filter, which is similar to the one added to Photoshop CS6 – see my blog Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter. One that is a lot of fun is the Escher’s Droste Effect – see my blog Pixel Bender Droste Effect for more information on this filter. The filter I use the most in Pixel Bender is from an outside source and is called Kill White – it takes out all the white from an image in a single click. Very handy! (Mike at Mike’s Extra says the 32-bit filter download currently works with the 32-bit Photoshop CS6 but he has not been able to get the 64-bit plug-in working.) This image is of one of my Orange Hibiscus using instructions from my Droste Effect blog link above.

https://i0.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5256/5459666308_4ca45d5487.jpg

14.  PHOTOMATIX MERGE TO 32-BIT HDR PLUG-IN FOR LIGHTROOM 4.1 USERS – ($0 if you already own Photomatix Pro)

Since there is not much for the HDR fanatic (although the Steadepod in No. 8 above is perfect for HDR in difficult places), the Merge to 32-Bit HDR Plug-in is a little heralded plug-in that HDR Soft released earlier this year and I find it indispensable. Since it is free to owners of the Photomatix Pro program (one of the HDR industry standards for processing HDR images), I thought I would mention it here. The first image in this blog was created from 3 images stacked with this program.  You first select your HDR images in Lightroom, go to Export -> Merge to 32-Bit HDR – it then aligns and brings the file back into Lightroom as a TIFF for processing. Very quick and very useful – much faster than going into Photoshop to stack and align them.

15. 50 FREE HIGH QUALITY TEXTURE PACKS – ($0)

This is a just-for-fun link I found over a year ago but it has 50 sites which also have links and lots of freebies on each site, not just great textures. Total fun and your Photoshop buddy will love browsing through all the wonderful things available and you will be a hero! Check out 50 Free High Quality Texture Packs by tutslist.com.

I hope this blog has given you some ideas and places to check out if you are looking for that special Photoshop or Photography gift that will not “break the bank!” If you want more ideas, check out my Inexpensive Gifts for Photoshop Lovers for 2011. I know with the economy the way it is, it is hard to find something that is really nice or unique – maybe this blog will give you some great ideas. Happy Shopping!…..Digital Lady Syd


Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter

Decided to have some fun this week. I really did not think I would ever write a long blog about using this filter since I have used a very similar version with Photoshop CS5 for several years using the Adobe Pixel Bender interface.Pixel Bender includes Oil Paint as one of their filter choices (along with the cool Droste Effect – see my blog Pixel Bender Droste Effect). Oil Paint has always been a lot of fun but you can definitely tell you are using it. Photoshop CS6 has included it in their new version so I decided to give it another whirl since a lot of people seem to be really psyched by it. The image above is of the Cafe Alcazar, a restaurant that is located in the old swimming pool area of the Hotel Alcazar before it became City Hall and the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. I might add it is one of the best places to get a great lunch, which is all they serve and at a reasonable price!

While doing a CS6 tutorial, I was reminded that Oil Paint does a great job on detailed and HDR images – so this is what you are seeing. (Click on image to see more detail.) This was a bracketed three image hand-held shot that was first brought into Photoshop’s Merge to HDR using RC Concepcion’s El Capitan preset from his book The HDR Book, but any settings that work for your image are fine. After processing in HDR, the updated Lens Correction Filter was used to straighten the columns that were slightly bending in, and the image was straightened and cropped. A duplicate layer was created and converted to a Smart Object before applying the Oil Paint Filter so you can go back in and adjust your settings if you don’t like the results. The settings used were: Stylization 7.97, Cleanliness 4.8, Scale 0.84, Bristle Detail 6.9, Angular Direction 180, and Shine 1.5.

What the sliders do:

Stylization : the bumpy texture slider – low value gives stucco effect (more realistic) and high value gives large brush stroke effect (default  4 with a range of .1 to 10).

Cleanliness: sharpens the brush strokes – low value gives a gritty effect and high value gives super smooth effect (default 2.3 with a range of  0 to 10).

Scale: fine lines spread out as you make it larger and comes from upper left corner of image – how large do you want the effect to appear within the image? (default 0.8 with a range of .1 to 10)

Bristle Detail: depth of the brush strokes – low value creates smooth transitions and high value increases contrast (default 10 with a range of 0 to 10).

Angular Direction: affects angle of the brush strokes and light hitting brushstrokes (default 300 with a range of 0 to 360).

Shine: creates embossed look and keeps the curly strokes from being pushed up against the edge by creating lines around edges (major difference between this filter and one in Pixel Bender which cannot do this) – low value gives painterly look and gives similar look as Pixel Bender filter (default of 1.3 with a range of  0 to 10).

For Pixel Bender users, Colorization: creates contrast and is different for each image (default of 1.18 and a range of 0 to 2) and Brush Contrast: set to 0 creates little contrast (default 1 with a range of 0 to 1). The Pixel Bender filter also has sliders for Stylization (default of 2.893 with a range of .1 to 10), Cleanliness (default 6.32 with a range of 2 to 15) and Brush Scale (default 2 with a range of .1 to 10) like the CS6 version.

…..


This bird is an African Crowned Crane that lives with two others at the Hilton Waikoloa Village Ocean Tower area. Since this filter is supposed to look good on pets and animals, I thought this image had the look for it. (The settings used were Stylization 2.08, Cleanliness 10, Scale 5.89, Bristle Detail 10, Angular Direction 302.4, and Shine 0.95.) It is taking a little time to learn what settings I like.  It seems you have to watch the Shine slider or you get a way overdone look – but don’t completely eliminate it or you loose all the really cool texture as shown on the walls in the background and body of the bird. The filter effect seemed a little overdone in some areas (like the eyes, head feathers, beak area, and edges of the palms) so a layer mask was added. Using a low opacity brush, parts of the effect were brushed away. The image was finished up by adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to warm up the colors a little and add some contrast, and Nik Viveza 2 to add a little more detail and color to the eye, beak and head feathers. Overall I believe it turned out rather nice and it does add some artistic quality that the original image was lacking.
…..

To be honest, I do not see a lot of difference between the filters as created in Pixel Bender for CS4 and CS5 and for CS6, even though the sliders are somewhat different. Below is an example of an image of the Ka’anapali Beach Club in Maui, Hawaii using the Oil Paint Filter in CS6. Then click on this image and you will see the original image as created in Pixel Bender CS5.


These are the settings I used for the CS6 image above (Stylization 5.25, Cleanliness 10, Scale 1.29, Bristle Detail 1.85, Angular Direction 300.6, and Shine 0).  These are the settings I used for the Pixel Bender image (Stylization 10, Cleanliness 15, Coloration 1.1, Brush Scale 3.07, and Brush Contrast 0.42). Both filters used a 69% opacity for the Oil Paint Filter layer and a layer mask was used to remove the effect from certain parts of the image. Also a Nik Color Efex Pro Brilliance and Warmth filter was applied to both images as a last step.

The reason I listed all this information is that I think it is interesting to see how the two slider amounts compare. I found there were two significant differences: the use of the Colorization slider which has a big impact on how the color looks in the Pixel Bender image but is missing in the CS6 update and I think really adds to the image, and the Shine slider in CS6 which controls a lot of the crazy textures you get in the image – if you use too much, it gets really weird and some people don’t use this slider at all. By comparing the defaults of each filter, the CS6 settings seem to have been adjusted to fit what looks good on most images, or fine-tuned a little.

…..

The above are small purple flowers in my front yard that I just had to try this filter on – I am surprised how nice it turned out. The settings for this image are as follows:  Stylization 7.87, Cleanliness 7.5, Scale 0.6, Bristle Detail 10, Angular Direction 0, and Shine 3.3. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add some contrast and bring out a little bit of color in the flowers.

I am surprised the same sliders were not included in the update in CS6. Still not sure if I like it as well as the Pixel Bender version. Again, it is a filter effect that I am not inclined to use a lot but is fun to play with. Someone had suggested that just the texture effect might look good as a background for some images. Overall I think that with the right image, it can create a very nice look, although it definitely is marked as a Photoshop filter effect. Give it a try using either version – Adobe Pixel Bender’s or CS6’s – and add that fun artistic look to your images…..Digital Lady Syd


Different Images – Same Look Using HDR!

This week I am going to just show some of the results from taking images in Jackson, Mississippi. For starters, this is a classic place to get good pictures – HDR (high dynamic range) or not. It has lots of history and many beautiful churches and government buildings that make for great photography.

There is so much information on how to get an HDR look, and to be honest, I do not think it is all that hard once you get comfortable with one or more of the HDR programs. I have been taking HDR pictures for several years and I still love the effect, but there are many people who do not enjoy this type of artistic expression on an image.

Photomatix Pro 4.0

This first image is of an old abandoned church in downtown Jackson.

The effect above was created using Photomatix Pro 4.0. This is the program I used to learn how to do HDR post-processing, and I still go to this software first when processing HDR. It is reasonably priced with NAPP members getting a 25% discount, and  Mark S. Johnson Photography gives a 15% discount. I have had trouble with slight camera movement since I do not always shoot my HDR images on a tripod. The latest upgrade provides a very good correction due to camera jiggle, or tree branches, people or water movement.

The above image is an HDR Image of the beautiful Mississippi Capitol Building using Photomatix Pro 4.0.

Nik’s HDR Efex Pro

I tried using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro in the image below using the Vibrant Details and Colors preset and then adjusted with some control points. That’s it. If you are interested in HDR, take a look at this software – it has a very different interface from the Photomatix Pro program. Since I love all NIK products, it is hard not to like this program.

Because I got curious, I decided to put the Mississippi State Capitol Building into Nik HDR Efex Pro. Since this software has a bunch of presets to try out on the image before you apply the final settings, I decided to use the Vintage preset that definitely gives a nostalgic feel to the image. This effect would have been harder to achieve in Photomatix or CS5 – to get this result an action would have to be applied in Photoshop after the image was created in the HDR program.

Adobe Photoshop CS5’s Merge to HDR

The HDR effect below was created using Photoshop’s own Merge to HDR command. I used my “Use with Vivid Drawing preset” (download in next section) as a starting point and made adjustments to suit the image. Personally, I think CS5 does a pretty good job.

Adobe Photoshop CS5’s HDR Toning for Single Images

I was unable to get three good image shots off (the picture was taken from the car while at a stop light). Therefore, Photoshop CS5’s new Single HDR Adjustment was applied. First the picture was adjusted using my SJ-Vivid Drawing Look Develop preset in Lightroom (download here) or in Photoshop ACR (download here – wrong extension in the zip folder on file – change to .xmp to get it to work) which gives the start of an HDR effect, and then I opened CS5 to finish the look by going to Image -> Adjustment -> HDR Toning. To apply this effect in Photoshop, the image must be flattened so save your original first and create a new flattened version to apply the HDR Toning. To use the settings used here, download the “Use with Vivid Drawing Preset” I created for the HDR Toning Preset field. It needs to be placed in the following folder for Windows users: (User  Name)\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Preset\HDR Toning.

Here is another image using the same Lightroom/ACR preset and the downloaded Use with Vivid Drawing Look preset for the HDR Toning dialog in Photoshop. These settings work very well on landscape images with bright colors. Since the sky was flat, it was replaced after running my favorite plug in Kill White that I have added to Adobe Pixel Bender.

There are many good references if you want to learn more about HDR post processing or just to learn the latest techniques. Trey Radcliff is the HDR guru. His “Stuck in Customs” blog (one I have followed for several years and is one of my favorite all-time blogs) is probably the best you will find on HDR, and he has a great HDR tutorial. RC Concepcion just released a new book called “The HDR Book: Unlocking the Pros’ Hottest Post-Processing Techniques” that appears to cover the programs I used above. Richard Harrington has a good video at TipSquirrel called “HDR with Photoshop and HDR Efex Pro” and they have many other HDR videos available – so check these out. This is just touching the “tip of the iceberg” on this subject.

Try some of your other filters (Topaz Adjust with the Spicify preset a popular look right now – see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) or add some textures on these images after you have applied the HDR effect. There are many, many possibilities to get some great looking pictures! Go shoot some HDR images and experiment with the post-processing!…..Digital Lady Syd