This week I am going to just show a couple tricks about how to get this more illustrative look and how to use an overlay from a texture to get a nice effect. This is a beautiful Palm Tree that was growing in West Palm Beach at the hotel. It had a really green background and detail that was making it hard to separate the tree out. So this is how I got what I consider a rather nice effect.
So I am going over the basic workflow which was used on both this image and the foxes image below. Most of these steps I have covered in recent blogs on how to do them so I will direct you to them if you need to refer back.
- This image was adjusted using Adobe Camera Raw – just changed several Basic sliders. Lightroom was used in the second image changing only the DeHaze, Highlight and Shadow sliders and removing a little Noise.
- In Photoshop the bottom layer was duplicated by clicking CTRL+J (if opened as a Smart Object, which preserves your ACR settings as with the image above, need to right click on the top layer and select Rasterize Layer to remove the Smart Object).
- This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail was used on the top image and Topaz Clarity on the bottom layer to just sharpen up the details. Any sharpening method works fine but start with a sharp image and remove the detail later if needed. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3 blog and my More Clarity on Topaz Clarity blog.)
- The Foxes can easily be removed from their distracting background, so at this point Topaz ReMask 5 was used, but any selection tool would have worked fine. (Try using the Quick Selection Tool, Magic Wand, or Quick Mask with the Refine Edge Command.) This would have been an impossible task with the Palm Tree image at this point. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is? blog.)
- Next the free JixiPix Spectrel Art was used on both images. The Palm Tree used the Dark Edges preset and the background was painted out using the Erase Brush in the plug-in. For the Foxes, the Topaz ReMask layer is opened in Spectrel Art and Dark Lines preset was used. Those two presets seem to be my favorites. Both image were set to Screen blend mode on this layer in Photoshop. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-In.)
- Now the newly free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 is used on both images. The Palm Tree used these 4 stacked filters: Film Efex: Vintage using Film Type 6, Glamour Glow, Lighten/Darken Center, and Color Set Monday Morning using Neutral. This gave the image a bit of nice glow in the image. The Fox image used the same first three filters (Film Efex: Vintage used Color Set 14) but the last one used Detail Extractor set to 20%. ( See my Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Nik Color Efex Pro 4!)
- Now clean up layers were used on both images. For the Palm Tree, a New Layer was created and just sampled the background area and painted around where the distractions were. Brush used was a free brush from Ditlev Fine Art Br Vol1-SB 6 13 – nice texture at a lower flow and just built up the effect so it looks somewhat painterly around the tree fronds. For the Foxes, used a chalk brush at very low opacity to reduce lines that were distracting and emphasized the head of the foxes which is the focal point.
- Now the overlays are used. For the Palm Trees, the French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Artiste Bold Brush 2 texture was opened in another document. By going to Select Color and choosing Highlights and the check the Invert checkbox, a selection of only the color was created. Close the dialog and add a layer mask to the layer and the whites will be deleted from the image. I recommend using a texture with lots of grain and color to get an interesting overlay look. Now this layer can be saved as a PNG file to be used again. It was placed into the Palm Tree file and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between layers) to get the light turquoise color on the overlay. The layer opacity was set to 74%. This is one of my favorite overlays – I like for my image to show through better and it does not require a blend mode which can change the colors or the light values in the image. A layer mask was used to lightly remove some of the texture off the Palm Trees. The Foxes used the exact same process – this time two different textures were used from 2 Little Owl’s Studios (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link): Stained Glass 14 with the Highlights removed in Select Color at 32% layer opacity; and Starry Night 5 which used only the darker areas and was set to 84% layer opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.)
- Now an extra step occurred in the Foxes image, mainly some lightening and darkening Curves Adjustment layers to differentiate the right fox head from the back of the left fox. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.)
- Next Topaz Lens Effects was applied to both images where the Reflector filter using a Gold preset – this directed the lighted the light from a certain direction to give both images a warmer feeling. Just fiddle with the sliders until it looks good. If you do not have the plug-in, use Camera Raw Filter’s Radial Filter and add a touch of yellow Temperature and a little Exposure and make a big circle half off the image to warm up a side a little bit. (See my Topaz Lens Effects for Some Image Fun! blog.)
- New Layers were created in both images and just a little speckle brush was used to paint in around the trees and foxes to give a more painterly effect. The layer opacity was set to 60% so as not to look too fake.
- For the Fox image, a final step of adding French Kiss’s Sponged Edge border overlay to further give a little painter effect to the border. A Gradient Adjustment Layer was clipped to it that contained a warm orange to a gold gradient. The Gradient Adjustment Layer opacity was set to 36% and the Border was set to 35% layer opacity. Very subtle.
These little Fennec Foxes were taking a snooze at the West Palm Beach Zoo on a sunny day. I was trying to give the impression that they were having wonderful dreams. I know the workflow above is a little extensive, and there are several different ways you can improve upon the effect. Still, I personally like that part photo – part illustrative look you can achieve with the various filters. And most can be reproduced with Photoshop and free plug-ins. Of course I am still a big Topaz fan, but there are always other ways to get a similar look.
One of the things I hope you try is Step 8 above. If you have some favorite textures, try removing a color out of them or highlights or shadows – this can really give a unique feel to an image and I do prefer a good PNG file over a JPG texture many times. Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer!…..Digital Lady Syd
Had a blog glitch but finally got this one up. I have to thank Corel Master Elite Karen Bonaker for this wonderful find – a really fun free plug-in called Spectrel Art from JixiPix. My initial impression was this can’t be that good if it is free. I was pleasantly surprised. What is really cool about this plug-in is that it uses a brush where you can either localize the effect by brushing it in or erasing it.
This is very similar in effect to Topaz Glow which is one of my favorite special effects plug-ins. Both plug-ins usually need a blend mode change. Once in Photoshop, the above Spectrel Art layer was set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 44% layer opacity. In the Topaz Glow image below, the layer was set to Soft Light blend mode at 50% layer opacity. The effect can be way too strong if left at 100% layer opacity – add layer masks if you want to further localize the effect in Spectrel Art. Topaz Glow does not have a brush to localize the effect in the plug-in so a layer mask must be used in Photoshop to do this. Below it can be seen how similar the results were with Topaz Glow using the same vignette and spotlight effects.
This is not to say this plug-in will replace Topaz Glow – Glow has a lot more sliders and presets for a lot more choices (see my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Glow blog) , but for a free plug-in, Spectrel Arts does a pretty nice job. For comparison, below is the original show image after doing basic changes in Adobe Camera Raw.
To finish up this image, a white spotlight layer was placed on all the flowers (see my How to Add a Soft Spotlight Light blog) on the shoes and a soft vignette was placed around the outside of the image.
Spectrel Art has 27 presets that seem to be a really nice assortment of settings. There are also several sliders that can adjust the effect. In the top image and the screenshot below, the preset 18 Dark Lines was selected and the Detail Style changed to Soft.
- The Detail slider increases the amount of intersecting lines and Colorize Detail adds color to the lines. The Detail Style buttons deal with the amount of glow color and light applied to the image.
- Taper Length creates an abstract style to the longer intersecting lines. Use Light Taper Style for white highlights and outlines effect – can use Lighten slider to illuminate the whole scene and Brighten to illuminate the outlines; and use Dark for stark contrast of black intersecting lines – can use Blacken to strengthen the overall dark areas and Blacken to increase the dark outlines.
- Edge Sharpen defines and emphasizes the lines.
- Color Boost enhances overall color.
- Contrast darkens shaded areas and brightens the light ones.
- Smoothing softens the curves in the lines.
That about sums up all the controls – very easy to use. Below the image of a white orchid butterfly taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo is another example using this plug-in. (Here are the settings used: Detail 64-just press the dot on the slider to get the amount, Colorize Detail 81, Detail Style Soft, Taper Length 50, Taper Style Light with Lighten set to 50 and Brighten 40, Edge Sharpen 98, Color Boost 21, Contrast 60, and Smoothing 68.) The layer was set to Color Burn at 51% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed on top and Greens was set to Hue -31/Sat -70/Lightness -61 to reduce the really bright green in the background. On a New Layer a Mixer Brush was used to smooth over the sharp edges of the colors. Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a dark olive green vignette was used. That was it. The Spectrel Art plug-in made the butterfly really pop!
Hope you will try out this plug-in – it is a lot of fun and you can’t beat the price! I hope to have time to really see what it will do. JixiPix seems to have a lot of other plug-ins that I might try out as they look interesting. Anyway, have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
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