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Posts tagged “Topaz Clarity


Image of two baby Great Egrets in a nestWell, these two little guys were just adorable. This shot was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm‘s famous Rookery. I was surprised how newborn they looked. If you get in the St. Augustine area in the April/May time slot and you love bird photography, there is just no better place to go. It is crazy with birds, people, tripods, and did I say kids, but you can still get some really nice shots.

This blog is about getting rid of the ugly natural backgrounds that often surround these beautiful creatures and totally distract the eye. One of the first things you need to think about is getting a texture that sort of matches what you are trying to block out. You want the texture to fit in seamlessly so that you do not notice when looking at the photo that a texture is even there. Below is what my image Background layer looked liked after the tone was adjusted a little and a huge crop was done in Lightroom. The mother egret’s leg is actually just to the left of the crop.

Original image of baby egrets before post processingI found the large branch behind the birds along with the over-sharpened next branches to be a bit overwhelming for this image. I wanted a bit of a painterly look to the image, but too much would just take away from the subjects which were so natural and nice already. Therefore there is one person who has the most beautiful natural textures for images that you can find and her name is Jai Johnson. She has several that can be downloaded for free, including the one that was used in this image, and it is definitely worth your time to look at all of her collections. She takes the most incredible bird and nature images and almost always blends in one of her beautiful textures to enhance the images. The one used in this image is called emeraldgreen-canvas and it matched the background and green colors of the original image very nicely.

Once the texture is placed into your image, put the texture underneath the image and add a layer mask to the image. Jai says there is more control by putting the texture under the image and then removing the image background in the layer mask. In my case, I like filling the mask with black by CTRL+I inside the mask and just painting back what I want showing. Since you cannot see where the objects are with a black mask, go to the Properties Panel and reduce the Density slider until you see what you need (I used 82%). TIP: To keep from accidentally painting on your image instead of your layer mask, click on the image thumbnail and click on the Lock Image Pixels icon, 2nd Lock icon at top of Layer Panel. Now you are unable to paint in the image. Just Unlock to open it up if you need to. Do some painting with white in the mask and then put the Density back up to 100%. Any brush can be used to add the paint into the layer mask where you want a little painterly effect. The Brush Opacity and Flow on the Options Bar can be adjusted to get really nice blended fits into the image. For the mask above, I painted with a My Chalk Brush around the birds. (Photoshop’s Chalk 60 brush and in the Brush Panel set size to 200 pixels and in the Shape Dynamics section set the 19%.) Then used a Brush Opacity of 100% and Flow of 3% to paint around the bird feathers in the layer mask. I use a very tiny brush size to do this – definitely under 10 pixels and sometimes just 1 or 2 to get the coverage I want. Lightly paint over the feather’s edges. Set Brush Opacity to 30% and Mode to Multiply for painting in nest area in front so the white feathers are not painted over but the nest twigs picked up the slight color texture color and were softened. Since this texture was similar to what was really in the original background, it blended very nicely.

Next Mixer Brushes were used on New Layers above to just blend the bird hairs back into the background. I like to use separate layers for each brush I use – just be sure that Sample All Layers is checked. Many people just paint directly on top of a duplicated image to give it the painterly feel. I like to have the option to adjust the painted layer or erase if something looks bad. In this case a Chalk brush mixer was used as a blender so no color was added (Load Brush after each stroke is turned off), a Soft round brush blender mixer, and a Wax Crayon mixer brush used to add paint back in were used to create the effect. I am working on creating some good Mixer brushes to share, but I would suggest you try some of Photoshop’s mixers for now as some of them are very nice.

An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eyes by first selecting the eyes (I used the Quick Selection Tool or Q), and then opened the Exposure Adjustment Layer – the selection goes right into the mask. The Gamma slider and Exposure sliders were used to sharpen the eyes just a bit. Next a Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add contrast. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the babies.
Image of a leopard and snakeThis image is of a scene that was set up at the Native American Festival in Ormond Beach earlier this year. Before adding the texture, Topaz Clarity was used to give some detail in my subjects. (Settings for SJ Good Bird Preset: Clarity Dynamics Micro Contrast 0.80, Low Contrast 0.91, Medium Contrast -0.62, and High Contrast -0.80.) The layer mask was once again used to start the painterly brush effect.  Next Jai Johnson’s subtlenature-canvas layer was placed in the image. This texture technique Jai Johnson explained very nicely in her Peach Blush Texture Demonstration video. She uses Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) FXLabs interface but the principles can still be applied on a Photoshop layer mask. Once again adjusting the Brush Opacity and Flow was used to create the more painterly looking edges. In this layer mask, a Soft (same as Hardness at 0) Round Brush set to 100% Brush Opacity and a Flow of 1.00 was used to do the large brush strokes in the layer mask to remove the image background. I keep painting back and forth between the black and white colors using the Brush Opacity at 96% and the Flow at 5%. Need to keep flow under 6 or 7% to soften the hard edges on the image. Already the image had a very nice soft look and you could stop here. I also found that I liked the Density slider at 82% in the Properties Bar so it was left there. Jai duplicates the texture layer and puts it on top with a different blend mode. Once you get the background the way you want, there are many other choices you have to finish up the image. In my case New Layers were added again to add even more of a painterly effect. Above the eyes were sharpened with the Exposure Adjustment Layer, applied Nik Viveza 2 to even out the color, and added a vignette using the Curves Adjustment Layer.

I hope this gave you some ideas on how to blend in those backgrounds really nicely – the Flow is a major player when getting that natural look in your images along with a good Mixer Brush. I appreciate Jai shared her insights on how to do this. Have a very Happy Holiday – I may take a few weeks off to try and catch up. See ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
What Does the Flow Slider in the Options Bar Do?
Taking Off From the Rookery Runway


Image of a field of flowers and a butterflyRecently I have been enjoying taking images and creating something a little different with them – I like to think of it as giving the image a “little magical” feel. This is probably because of the various new brushes recently bought or downloaded. Last week’s blog was on some new brushes I discovered and a new technique for adding some variable color to those brushes. Since the brushes seem to be a major factor to getting this magical feel, I thought I would explore some other techniques using Photoshop brushes. The image above is just a quick phone snap of some beautiful pink agapanthus (Tulbaghia violacea) growing in my neighborhood. I have to be honest and say I added the Monarch butterfly to the image to add interest – I do not believe Monarch likes this particular flower. To start my workflow, below is the original image from Lightroom and the image before adding Topaz Impression filter at the end.
Original and Image Before Topaz Impression Filter appliedAs you can see, the original image is not exactly a beautiful shot, but for some reason it just had a look that I liked. I worked with this image a long time in both Lightroom and Photoshop, and almost gave up on it – just did not work as a realistic photographic image. For the final result not much was done in Lightroom, just a little Basic slider adjusting and a little sharpening with the Adjustment Brush. In Photoshop Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was applied and then on a duplicated layer, Topaz Glow was applied and the layer set to Overlay blend mode. (See Image 1 below for settings of the these filters.) Remember these are great filters, but similar results can always be obtained in other ways like using Photoshop sharpening techniques and adjustment layers. Now a few New Layers were added on top and some different brushes were selected to fill in and add color. The image on the right shows what results were obtained by adding in different brushes in different colors and using a Topaz Glow layer. I still really like Aaron Blaise’s Foliage Brushes so several layers used his weed and reed brushes to fill in the front brown areas. Several soft strokes were also added in the mid ground and background just to add some color that was sorely missing. With his brushes, not many changes were made in the brush engine as he has done a wonderful job of setting them up to give good results.

Also used several of Deviant Art’s Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes. (Be sure to read his usage rules for use.) Frostbo is one of my very favorite brush people and his brushes are all free – check out his other brush sets too. These 11 grass brushes were very basic and  created in an older version of Photoshop, but that makes them very easy to manipulate with the Brush Engine. Two of his brushes were manipulated and added to this image. Brush 010 was selected, and in the Brush Engine, changes were made to Frostbo’s settings: Brush Tip Shape Spacing from 25 to 1000, Size 137 to 800; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter from 51 to 0, Control Pressure Off, Min Diameter 0, Angle Jitter 2, Roundness 0, Min Roundness 0, checked Brush Projection; Scatter not used; Color Dynamics Control changed from Pen Pressure to none, Hue Jitter from 19 to 4, and Saturation Jitter from 20 to 8; and checked Wet Edges. These changes created a slightly different brush that worked better for this image. A similar change was done to Frostbo’s Brush 004. There are no additional settings applied his original brush other than the Brush Tip Shape settings of Size 154 pixels and Spacing 25%. The changes I made to this brush are: Brush Tip Shape Size 700 pixels and Spacing 331%; Shape Dynamics just Angle 4 and Check Brush Projection; Texture Scale 78% with a really obvious light and dark watercolor pattern selected, Brightness 9, Contrast 5, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Color Dodge, Depth 100%, and Depth Jitter 0; Color Dynamics check Apply Per Tip; Foreground/Background Jitter 100, no Control on, Hue Jitter 3 and all the rest o; Transfer Opacity Jitter 8% and Flow Jitter 71%; Wet Edges check on, Build-up checked on, and Smoothing checked on. This created a very different effect. Below are what the brushes looked like before changes and after changes.
Example of Frostbo brushes used in photoThe After brushes look different – not a lot different, but different. One reason is that the Brush Projection is checked in my variants so the brush stroke can be stretched or squished depending upon how you tilt and move your stylus. The bottom row shows several variations of the same brush stroke with it turned on. It can add that additional variety needed to give the random look to the brush. Just uncheck it in the Shape Dynamics section if you do not like the effect.

The Monarch butterfly (an object I had cut out of another image) was added and a layer using Kyles Real Watercolor Salt Medium brush was used to add some of the little dots throughout the middle part of the image. Any splatter brush can do this, I just liked his. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Nik Viveza 2 was used to bring in the butterfly as the focal point. Next more Frostbo brush strokes were added on a New Layer and set to 56% layer opacity. On another New Layer above, the feel of small blooming flowers was achieved by using Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spatter Spread Brush set to 22% layer opacity and a Bevel & Emboss Layer Style added to give a little depth to the back area. A New Layer with Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spatter Mixed brush was used to add in the circles that I just liked and set to 80% layer opacity. This is where I was at in the right image above. Not a bad look, but it still needed something. That is when Topaz Impression was added – again using one of my own presets. These settings are also listed below if you would like them. Finally a Curves Adjustment Layer was added to correct overall contrast and another one to light the middle of the image a bit more. By filling the second Curves Adjustment Layer mask to black (CTRL+I in mask), then painting back the areas to brighten with a 30% brush opacity, the effect could be localized. That was it. The image was transformed into a magical colorful field of color.

Image of Tinkerbell and a composite magical imageHere is another example that actually is very similar to the first image. This time three images were composited to get this magical effect. They are all of weeds on my back porch (no comments please) and the base image is of the center weed in front of a step up. The pretty wild flowers and the front right green were masked from their backgrounds and Refine Edge was used to clean them up. It did an amazing job as it was difficult getting all the stems in the flower looking nice. They were then arranged in the original image and just a lot of exactly the same brushes used above were used to fill in the area. Tinkerbell brush was from Camilak3 on Deviant Art and on a layer below, her skin and clothes were painted in using a watercolor brush. To get the final feel, three four filters were applied as I just could not get it looking the way I wanted. They were Topaz Glow, Nik Viveza 2, Topaz photoFXlab and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4. I will give the preset settings below under Image 2.

One of the things I am starting to understand is that you can take any brush and basically “own it” by going into the Brush Engine and start playing. Once you like a brush, be sure to save it down as either a Brush Preset by clicking at the bottom of the Brush Panel or Brush Preset Panel, or as a Tool Preset by going to the top left of the options bar and clicking on the tiny arrow to open-click on the Tool Preset icon on right. That way your own version is ready to use over and over. There is no limitation on what you can do with a good basic brush. I have always loved my basic Chalk 60 brush – it just works for me. But now I have been experimenting with more object type brushes and they are turning out to be quite flexible when settings are changed also.

This week I just wanted to let you see how this can be done – it did take several hours to do each image, but they were a lot of fun to do. Since that is what I like to do, it was just perfect. Hope you enjoyed some of the tips and try out a little “magical look” to your images. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1:  The Topaz Clarity preset is one I created called SJ White Tulip and here are the settings:  Clarity Dynamics-Micro Contrast -1.00, Low Contrast 0.05, Medium Contrast -1.00, and High Contrast 0; No Tone Levels or Hue/Sat/; and Lum Red 0.09, Yellow 0.42, Green -0.08, Blue 0.38 and all others 0.00; and Tone Level Black Level 0.11, Midtones 0.22, and White Level -0.33; and Sat Yellow 0.22, Green 0.08, Purple 1.00, and Magenta 1.00. Topaz Glow setting is also one I call SJ Mysterious II Water and here are the settings used for it: Primary Glow:  Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 0.30, Effect Sharpness 0.63, Electrify 0.14, Simplify Details 0.17, Edge Color 0.28, Detail Strength -0.06, Detail Size 0.20, Brightness -0.56, Contrast 0.44, Saturation 0.00, Line Rotation 0.00, and Glow Spread 0.00; Secondary Glow:  Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.00, Effect Sharpness 0.22, Electrify 0.03, Simplify Details 0.00, Brightness 0.45, and Contrast 0.64; Color Overall – all set to 0; Red Sat 0.34; Orange Sat 0.33; Yellow Sat 0.03 and Lightness -0.29; Blue Sat 0.42 and Lightness -0.43; and Magenta Sat 0.75 and Lightness -0.35.  Topaz Impression preset is one I call SJ WC like effect on bldgs – here are the settings: started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0.) Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones.

Image 2: Topaz Glow preset used is called Room Glow by Blake Rudis. (See my blog How To Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow for info on creating this setting.) Topaz photoFXlabs is a plug-in that does not support Photoshop CC2014, but can still be used with Photoshop CC which is what I usually use. I love the InstaTone setting in it and it was used for this image. Here are the steps and settings used just in case you own it:  First set Dyanmics slider on duplicate layer to -30; In Brushes, painted in burning around Tinkerbell and then used Detail brush to sharpen her and the line behind her; then set to Smooth to soften the lines in foreground.  Instatone Photo Library using
last image top row to get a nice tone to the image.  Then Adjustments Temp -9, and Dynamics 64. This time Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 was used to apply just a gentle painterly feel to the final image. Here are the settings used to get the final result of the image: Oil Paint Detail preset modified:  Background Brush Size 14, Photorealism 62, Piant Thickness 84, Stroke Length 11, Color Variation 18 and Brush Style Default Brush, and Random Seed 7556; Detail Masking Effect on Mask 1 – Brush Size -30, Photorealism 80, Paint Thickness -40, Stroke Length 0, Color Variatino -29, and Brush Style -29 painted over Tinkerbell and some of the splatters and the front two flowers; Mask 2 – Brush Size 23, Photorealism 43, Paint Thickness -40, Stroke Length 0, Color Variation -29, and Brush Style Default Brush and painted in some of the center weed; and Mask 3 – same settings as Mask 2 and painted over the line at top; the Mask Tool was set to Size 11, Feather 50 and Amuont 85. Color Brightness 10, Contrast 12, Saturation 14 and Temp 0; Lighting Highlight Brightness 30, Highlight Size 35, Direction 280 and Angle 66, Highlight Color White, Vignette None; and Canvas No Texture.


Image of a Common Moorhen BirdThis week I thought I would just address a topic I consider when choosing pictures to post-process. That is, how do you get the most out of that not quite perfect image that you really like? Many times I end up taking a picture that does not look like much out of camera. I do not want to discard some of these pictures – after all, they are my memories, but it does seem to be a constant battle to figure out a way to pull out a good result with them.

One of the best starts is to try out different crops. Lots of times I have taken too much background and/or foreground in the shot, but the main subject does not look too bad close up. The image above is an example of this. This only works with my better camera where I have pixels to spare. Due to the lower resolution of my phone pix, they may not give a better result with a crop. That is one reason I like filters. So often a special effect turns a shot into something I totally love. With some pretty cool phone apps, you can get some very impressive results. But with my dSLR, I like to use the Photoshop plug-ins since I can often get some good results with marginal images. So let me walk you through the above example.

The image is of a male Common Moorhen – who knew – it was a really striking bird hiding in the grass. (To see the original RAW images, check out the end of the blog.) The patterns in the water were totally lost in the original image, but in Lightroom the image was cropped extensively and a totally different look appears. A good crop can make all the difference. Since cropping can create some rather soft edges in the image, Seim’s Super HDR X preset was applied to sharpen up the image overall. Then in Photoshop, Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen just the bird – a black mask was applied and the bird was painted back.  (See sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for Seim’s and Topaz website links.)

Now it was time to try out some different filters on this image. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Impression was applied. This is such a painterly look that I did not consider it one I would like, but it is still worth trying different effects to see what you get. One of my favorite Topaz filter guys, Blake Rudis, created a video called Atmospheric Backgrounds with Topaz Impression. Since this image had such a crazy zig-zag pattern in the background water, it seemed like a good time to try out the Ethereal Background preset he created in his video. All the settings are listed at the link and it really did calm down the color so the bird stands out. A Lookup Adjustment Layer using the Crisp Winter preset was added and set to 55% layer opacity to cool down the colors just a little bit. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to direct the focus to the bird a little more – this is almost always my last step, but it you do not have this filter, try using Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter and adjust some Radial filters in the image. It creates a very similar result and I use it a lot also. I now have a shot I really like!


Image of a Cattle Egret riding on the back of a cowThis beautiful little Cattle Egret was riding on the back of this gigantic cow. I was sitting in the backseat of a car and shot this through the opposite side window – I am still surprised it turned out at all! Now to be honest, this image was not really that great – lots of the background was very blurred. But the bird was not in too bad a shape. This image was turned into a black and white in Lightroom – it really made the bird show up nicely. (Used Seim’s Angels Kiss preset.) Otherwise its tiny size and all the colorful wild grass and reeds really made the bird hard to find. So definitely check out a black and white treatment just to see if it could enhance a rather tired looking color image. This is pretty easy to do in either Lightroom with the canned presets or Photoshop with the black and white adjustment layer.

In Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was used, and it worked nicely on the bird, but way overdid the rest of the image. Therefore a black layer mask was used and just the bird and part of the palm tree in front were sharpened. The Shake Reduction filter can sometimes really straighten out a soft shot so check it out. Use the black layer mask if it is too much and paint back areas that needed the sharpening.

Use your brushes to paint in over the soft edges of focal objects. A New Layer was created on top and the bird edges were lightly painted in cleanly. Used a tiny soft round brush set to 7 pixels, 30% layer opacity, and sampled the bird color (ALT+click on object) – only painted his edges and a little bit in the beak area.  I still did not like the overall appearance. Topaz Clarity was opened and my SJ Artsy with highlights preset was applied, and all of the sudden it looked so much better! This is a preset I created for something totally different ages ago, but it worked on this image. In a layer mask only the bird was painted back to retain its detail as this preset really softened everything in it. (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 layer opacity was set to 84%. Since this filter was applied to a black and white image, it gave a different result than on color images. The post-processing could have been finished here as it looked pretty good. A blue toned Solid Color Adjustment Layer was placed on top and set to Color blend mode at 33% layer opacity to get a really pretty night feel to the picture. And once again, since the background was pretty busy, Topaz Impression was opened and the new Ethereal Preset by Blake Rudis was applied. The layer was set to 75% layer opacity and in a white mask, the bird and some of the areas I wanted the detail to show up was painted back. The last step was using Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the bird.


Image of a Wood Stork and his reflectionHere is another example of an image a thousand people have taken and I wanted to get something a little different out of it. I have to say I have a soft spot for Wood Storks since they are all around where I live. In Lightroom the Crop was set, Seim’s Super Gentle X was applied, and the head was sharpened with an Adjustment Brush. The Clarity and Sharpness were set up fairly high. In Photoshop the first step was to extend the image size 50% so Flaming Pear’s Flood filter could be used. This is an oldie but goodie filter, but it is still one of my favorites and it gives major realistic results. (Flaming Pear Flood Settings: Horizon 56, Offset 0, Perspective 41, Altitude 29, Waviness 2, Complexity 43, Brilliance 39, Blur 27, Size 0, Height 24, and Undulation 38.)  Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied. (Here are the preset settings: Overall Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.41; and Tone Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.48, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) This looked really good as is when applied twice. (See my Tidbits A Reflecting Wood Stork blog.) But I decided to go after one application and use Topaz Glow on a stamped layer and my SJ Inter Web Variation preset. (Settings are: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) This gave a very, artistic twist to the image. On another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was applied to get the pretty pink and greens in the image. (Here are the settings: SJ Thistle Blush 2-Sr1 Sh1 preset – ReStyle Sat Fourth 0.78; Lum Fourth -0.52 and Fifth -1.00; and Texture Strength 0.05; Basic Blend Mode Soft Light at 62% opacity; Color Temperature 0.25, Tint 0.42, and Sat -0.06; Tone Black Level -0.33, Midtones -0.06, and White Level 0.64; and Detail Structure -0.09 and Sharpness 0.97.) The lower part of the image was darkened to try and copy the way a true reflection looks. And of course my last step was using Nik Viveza 2.

Original images for the above post-processed images

I am showing thumbnails of what the originals looked like or this whole blog would have little meaning. It really does not matter whose filters you apply or what colors, it is just experimenting until you get something that makes the image look good. I could have used other filters and gotten totally different results. And by using adjustment layers and blend modes, even better results can be achieved. I know I have covered this before, but it is something I consider for the post-processing of each image. I love to just play in Photoshop and have fun – and that is what this whole blog is about. Challenge yourself to get something nice out of a “maybe not so nice” image. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of Somewhere in ScotlandCould not resist blogging just a little bit on what I did recently in my favorite programs, even though I am taking a vacation from blogging. The above image was post-processed in Photoshop – an image in Scotland that I overlooked. Won’t go into great detail as this was pretty basic – each was done on a duplicate layer – Shake Reduction filter, Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity Clouds 1 preset, then Clarity Color and Contrast III preset, Topaz Glow using the Room Glow Blake Rudis preset created in blog link below, a couple Selective Color Adjustments Layers, one for the clouds in particular, and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust vignetting.
Landscape image painted in Corel PainterJust created a little impressionistic painting following the basic steps from Thomas Churchwell’s video called Turner Style Painting in Corel Painter using Marilyn Sholin Brushes. I did have to add the my image in as a Source in the Clone Panel for me to get it all the brushes to clone correctly. And a pretty rough paper texture worked best on the canvas for the effect. Love the free cloner brushes from Marilyn (see bottom blog link below for site).

Well that is it – have a good week!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow
Corel Painter’s Auto-Painting Results – Not Bad!


Image of Pink Hibiscus Well, now that the holidays are over, I have had a chance to get reacquainted with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow and start to understand this little gem of a plug-in a little bit more. I watched a Topaz Webinar by Blake Rudis’s (Integrating Topaz Glow into Your Workflow) and then another shorter video (Topaz Glow A Closer Look with Blending Options), and the program actually makes a lot more sense to me. I thought I would show you a few more examples of how Blake is using Glow to get some absolutely beautiful soft glow effects. Click on the Webinar link above for a download button that links to a Glow PDF file showing how to make his presets and several of his actions – I refer to the PDF file all the time now.

For me it seems Topaz Impression works great as the second step once Glow has been applied. The image of the two pink hibiscus has both filters applied. If you would like the detailed steps and plug-in settings used, check Image 1 info below. Two things were done differently from the usual application of this filter: 1. A black layer mask was added to the Glow layer and just the parts where I wanted the Glow to show up were painted back in the layer mask. Since the original image was pretty nice for starters, Glow was used to just add detail and highlights to just the flower centers and leaves – the rest of the image looked way over-the-top with the settings used. 2. Then the layer opacity of the Impression layer was reduced so you can still see some of those preserved Glow strokes. This image resulted in a pretty natural final look, which is what I wanted.

Image of Pink Flowers taken at Epcot Disney WorldThese flowers were taken at Disney World Epcot Center last year. I could not get this image to post-process correctly so I had skipped it. Then Glow came out and it has actually turned it into a rather unique feeling image. Glow added the light to the foreground colors but by using Topaz ReMask, it did not affect the reflection and sky in the background. Then Topaz Impression was applied using one of my presets at 82% Strength. All the steps and settings are below under Image 2.

Image of White Tree In this image of a leafless tree taken from above on my phone, a different workflow was used. First some texture and Topaz ReStyle was applied before Topaz Glow was used. That is because I felt the image needed that beautiful light effect that Blake discusses in his videos. His Room Glow preset was applied at 66% Strength and set to Hard Light blend mode before going back into Photoshop – it basically popped the picture! See Image 3 info for settings.

Image of bottles at Takeya Steak House in Ormond Beach, FloridaThis image is from my favorite eating place in the Daytona Beach area, Takeya Steak House – just the best! I could not resist taking this image while waiting of a table recently. It seemed to be begging for a Glow application, so here it is, but it definitely also shows the fractal side of the plug-in. Not much was done this image other than adding Glow and clean up. See Image 4 for the complete workflow and plug-in settings. I like this sort of illustrative feel that Glow can give to an image.

I decided to give you a small look at the original images as it is really hard to tell what effect this plug-in had on the images without them. So below are the images as they appeared after Lightroom but before Photoshop.
Originals for image shown

This last example is for all of us animal lovers – wanted to show how this plug-in does a great job with lighting on animal images. The image is from MorgueFile Free Photos – this site is loaded with fabulous pictures. The beautiful dog image was taken by GaborfromHungary, and I wish I had taken it. I wanted to try out Blake’s Animal Glow preset. It did not work well with this image, but my Graphic III Beach preset looked real great on the image. You need to try different settings for different types of images. The presets Blake gave us and the ones I am providing are just nice starting places. Once you find one you like, make a few changes for the specific image – you will get a real feel for what the sliders do and what effects you like. For all the settings on the dog image, check out Image 5 below.

Image of a beautiful Huskie dog I hope this blog has shown you how to get some gorgeous lighting effects with this plug-in. One of Blake’s workflow steps when using Glow is t0 set the Overall Saturation to -1.00 so you can see what is going on with the luminance and not the color. Then adjust your saturation back. I find this very helpful to do when adjusting the sliders for each image – you are just looking at the black and white tones and not the vivid colors, which can sometimes get in the way. You really need to at least look at his PDF and try his settings to see how the light effect changes in your images. It really is an incredible result and I am so happy I tried out the presets. Maybe this info will make you look at what can be done with this plug-in from a little different point-of-view – I know it changed how I am using it. Blake has really found a new way to use Topaz Glow that makes this plug-in much more useful and interesting. Hope you give it a try at least! Until next week, stay warm and have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Glow
Simply Glowing!
On the Beach
Using Topaz Glow to Add Color
HDR Tree

Workflow Steps and Plug-in Settings:

Image 1: This is a very basic image taken with my Android phone camera, then in Lightroom 2 Lil’ Owl (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Hazy Days 22 preset was applied to get a bit of a Tuscany feel to the image. Once opened in Photoshop, some clean up was done on a New Layer, a stamped layers created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), and Topaz Glow opened. If you watch Blake’s videos, you will find he uses the plug-in to add a beautiful soft light effect to almost all his images. That is is exactly what I did with this image. A preset I created was used to get some very nice lines in the leaves and flowers and some nice lighting. Then once back in Photoshop, a black layer mask was added (CTRL while clicking on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added – just the flowers and leaves were painted back into the mask. Next Topaz Impression was opened and a preset following the instructions in Blake’s free download PDF (see first paragraph above) was used to create a preset I call Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis. (Here are the settings if you would like them: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electrify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches. In this image I set the Primary Glow Saturation to -0.41.) Since I did not want too much applied, the layer was set to 55% opacity. A New Layer was created above and I just painted using my Chalk 60 Brush (just the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter is set to 19%) to clean up some of the painted areas that need to be smoothed out – here your own touch can be added. Last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast back into the image.

Image 2: Just basic changes were made to this image in Lightroom, no preset. This time Topaz Clarity was applied using the settings Blake suggested in his Webinar (here are his basic settings and they usually are a pretty good starting point for the image: Micro Contrast 0.13, Low Contrast 0.33, and Medium Contrast 0.52 – than can look at histogram and black tone – I did not adjust that here). Next Topaz Remask was used to separate the foreground from the background so Topaz Glow would only be applied to the foreground. In Glow, Blake’s Abstract setting was applied as shown with no changes and no blend mode changed in the plug-in. Back in Photoshop, the blend mode was changed to Pin Light at 100% layer opacity. On a stamped layer (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) above, Topaz Impression was applied using my Abstraction preset set to 82% Strength (Stroke Type 12, Brush Size 1.00, Paint Opacity 0.38, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.85, Stroke Length -0.50, Spill 0.72, Smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Hue 0.14, Sat 0.23, and Lightness 0.06; Red Lightness 0.14, Yellow Sat -0.11, and Green Lightness -0.36; Lighting Brightness 0.13, Contrast -0.23, and Vignette 0, Light direction X 0.34 and Y 0.05; and Texture Strength 0.19, Size -0.43, and Canvas I, Background type white solid and Background White). Now the painterly effect was added to the whole image, not just the foreground. A little clean up was done and that was it.

Image 3: In Lightroom used 2 Little Owls’ Fresh Color 1 preset. In Photoshop Topaz Clarity was used, but this time John Barclay’s settings were used (check out his Topaz Webinar called Creating Your Images with Topaz Plugins (not posted yet but is from 12/23/14) for another good video and some good Clarity info here.) The settings used for this image are: Micro Contrast 0.36, Low Contrast 0.20, Medium Contrast -0.11, and High Contrast -0.23 (see the stair stepping effect of the sliders) – then he looks at the histogram to adjust the Tone Levels – I usually do this in Photoshop but Clarity does a great job with the tones and colors. I am finding I like these basic settings a lot for this plug-in. Next Painted Textures Thanksgiving Winter Marsh was added twice – once set to Multiply at 64% layer opacity and Blend If This Layer white tab split (ALT+drag) was set to 96/130 and the top texture set to Linear Light at 22% layer opacity. Then Kim Klassen’s Deep Sigh texture was added and set to Hard Light at 74% layer opacity and the layer style Blend If sliders were set to: This layer white tab split and set to 149/196, and Underlying Layer black tab split and set to 14/42. This lightened up the background some. Next on a New Layer I used a brush I created using a portion of French Kiss’s Atelier Georgia texture set to 1600 px and just painted some green texture over the tree and everything –  set layer to Soft Light blend mode. Created stamped layer and applied Topaz ReStyle Regal Blue Shades (settings changed here: Restyle Opacity 50% and Color blend mode; Basic Opacity 22% and Multiply blend mode; Detail Structure 0.50 and Sharpness 1.00. Mask for Basic painted to bring back some of the white in the tree – Brush Strength 0.77, Brush Size 0.05, and Hardness 0.30 using Edge Aware and Color Aware sampling tree branch). On a New Layer above, the Sharpen Tool was used to sharpen up the tree branches – it did a pretty good job on this image. Next Topaz Glow was applied using the setting in Blake’s PDF for his Room Glow preset – the Strength was set to 66% and blend mode was Hard Light before returning back to Photoshop. This one really took a while to complete and ended up very different from the start. Totally fun to do!

Image 4: In Lightroom 2 Lil’ Owls’ At the Vineyard 7 preset was applied. In Photoshop John Barclay’s Topaz Clarity preset was applied with same settings as Image 3. In Topaz Glow I used these settings for my Inter Web Variation preset (Here are the settings: Primary Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 1.00, Effect Sharpness 0.12, Electify 1.00, Simplify Details 0.06, Edge Color 0, Detail Strength 1.00, Detail Size 0.42, Brightness 0.16, Contrast 0.18, Saturation 0.08, Line Rotation 0, and Glow Spread 0; Secondary Glow Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0, Effect Sharpness 0.54, Electrify 0.11, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0, and Contrast 0; Color Overall Saturation to 0.62, Red Sat to 0.44, Yellow Sat to 1.00 Yellow Lightness -0.36, Green Sat 1.00 and Lightness -0.51, Aqua Lightness -0.36, Purple Sat 1.00, and Magenta Sat 1.00 and Lightness 0.50. Set to Screen blend mode at 66% Strength; and no Finishing Touches.) On a New Layer above, the Sharpen Tool was used on the lettering in the bottles and hats. A little vignetting on the sides was applied with a Brown Solid Color Fill Layer with the mask filled with black (CTRL+I in white layer mask) and the edges painted back.

Image 5: First the image was duplicated and taken into Topaz Clarity (John Barclay Basic Settings from Image 3 was used, then Tone Level Black Level 0.13, Midtones -0.16, and White Level 0.30; HSL Filter Sat Red 0.45, Aqua 0.69, and Blue 0.33 were added). The Spot Healing Brush Tool was used to get rid of areas. Then in Topaz Glow my Graphic III Beach preset was applied ( (Here are the adjusted settings I used:  Secondary Glow: Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.23, Effect Sharpness 0.47, Electrify 0.17, Simplify Details 0, Brightness 0.36, Contrast 0.62, and the other two 0; Color: Red Sat 1.00, Orange Sat 0.27, Yellow Sat 0.20 and Lightness 0.09, Aqua Sat 0.78 and Lightness -0.26, and Blue Sat 0.49). The Blend Mode and Strength is the same as the blend mode and layer opacity in Photoshop, so usually I do not apply them until I go out of the plug-in so they can be readjusted easily. This time the Overlay blend mode was used and set to 67% layer opacity. A black layer mask was added, and the dog was painted back in. In the Properties Panel, the Density was set to 85% and the Feather 31.6. The last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer that was used to add back just a little contrast and the Blue/Yellow curve was used to move the image to a more cool look. That was it.


Image of a little Native American Girl with headressThis week Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) released their newest plug-in, Glow, and it is once again so fun and unique! I will say right from the start that if you like plug-ins and filter effects in Photoshop, Topaz has the best selection to chose from. They are raising the bar with their new innovative effects to be used in your images. Topaz Glow is so unusual and I did not think I would like it that much – what can I do with it? But after using it for awhile and combining it with some of their other plug-ins, it is becoming one of my favorites. It brings out detail, color and lighting to get some very nice results. So lets see what we have here.

On the image above, of a beautiful little Native American child, is a good example of the use of color and lighting effects to get a lovely result, especially in the headdress area. First used Topaz Clarity’s Skin Smooth and Brighten II preset (these settings were adjusted: Dynamics Micro Contrast -0.36, Low Contrast -0.41, Medium Contrast -0.09, and High Contrast 0.19; Tone Level – Black Level 0.05, Midtones 0.06, and White Level 0.28) for a more natural skin look that this plug-in does so well. Next Topaz Glow was applied using one of my favorite presets, Mysterious I (these settings were adjusted: Overall Saturation 0.22; Red Saturation -0.63 and Red Lightness 0.23; Orange Hue 0.24 and Orange Saturation 0.62; Yellow Saturation 0.46; Blue 0.66; and Purple Saturation 0.68. Set to Multiply Blend Mode at 100% strength). This preset makes the image very dark as it uses a Dark Glow Type. By setting the blend mode to Multiply, the beautiful color and sharpening in the feathers of the headdress is achieved. A layer mask was added and with a soft round black brush, the face was lightly painted back so the filter did not apply to the face.  Several clean up layers were used and a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to create a black vignette effect by just dragging the top right dot straight down to the .25 line. The face was lightened just a little bit more using the Camera Raw Radial Filter. That was it. There was not really much manipulation to get this nice result. And what is really nice is that the effect is apparent just in the rather straight lines of the image, but it does not look like just a neon application or over-sharpening of the image. Since there was such a drastic change done on this image, the original is shown below for comparison.

I am finding that using images with lines in the objects work well with this program. Glow can really bring out the details that you did not realize were present. I seem to prefer the effect on flowers and grasses,

Image of trees that were painted and taken into Topaz GlowThis image was done just a little differently. It was first painted in Corel Painter using oil brushes where several sources of this same image were used to get a very colorful and illustrative final result. In Photoshop Topaz Glow was added and the Mysterious II preset selected with a few changes. (Changed Secondary Glow to Dark and set Fractal Strength to 0.20, Red Lightness to -1.00, and Sharpness 0.27. Strength 0.82 and Multiply blend mode.) By using the Secondary Glow, the effect could be emphasized even more to create this rather illustrative effect. On a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle’s Dark Goldenrod Sunset preset (Detail Structure 0.50 and Sharpness 1.00) was applied. I was really please how Painter worked with Glow.

What I Like About Topaz Glow

1. Love the totally unique effects this plug-in creates! Like I said, at first I was not sure how I would use it, but once I got the feel for what the different collections (6 collections and 50 presets) are doing, it became much easier to figure out and get the subtle looks I like.

2. I have an older computer and this plug-in zipped along really nicely when adjusting the large number of sliders (over 70) that were required to get the effects I liked.

3. The results actually work very nicely with several other plug-ins I like to use a lot, especially Topaz Impression and Topaz ReStyle. Below are examples of each of these being used with Glow.

4. Having a duplicate set of sliders to use as a Secondary Glow makes it very useful to fine-tune an effect. I am using this more as I get used to what the slider do.

What I Don’t Like About Topaz Glow

1. There is not an undo function. It makes it a little hard to compare the old setting to the new setting. The company is promising this will be in the update for the program – which by the way, is always free to people who have purchased the program. Maybe this should go under What I Like…… hum! Also you have to go back to the preset list, click on a different preset, and and then go back in to the original preset and start over if you do not like some of your changes.

2. Wish Glow had a mask so the effect could be removed from parts of the image and remain on other parts. Right now you have to apply the effect, then add a layer mask in Photoshop and paint out the effect with a black brush in the mask, to localize the result.

3. Wish we had a few more blend modes to chose from – currently just Normal, Multiply, Screen, Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light are available.

Image of my miniature mums and Boston Fern on my porchThese are my miniature mums that bloomed on my porch a month ago – they are my very favorite mums! What worked in this image are the lines in the flowers and fern that Glow emphasized. To create this effect, first in Lightroom Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) PowerWorkflow Magic Portrait preset and Dave Delnea’s Backlight 002 vertical preset.  (If you want some spectacular lighting effects in Lightroom, you need to check out Dave’s inexpensive presets. These may be the best ones I have ever downloaded.) I like the effect of Glow and Impression used together, which is what this image did. The basic steps are as follows: On a duplicate layer, Topaz Detail 3 was applied using my preset (Medium Details 0.38, Large Details 0.16, and Contrast 0.30). Some clean up was done on a New Layer. Created a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz Glow was opened – Wonderland preset was applied and set to Multiply blend mode at 66% opacity while still in the plug-in. Now you start to see the magical effect this plug-in can creates. Next Topaz Impression was applied on another stamped layer using the Monet II preset as is. A layer mask was added and some of the Glow detail in the flowers was painted back. One again a Radial filter was used to dial in the center right flowers which is the focal point of the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add contrast back into the image. Remember that when you apply lots of filters from these plug-in, you almost always need to add a Curves Adjustment Layer or Levels Adjustment Layer to bring back the contrast that gets lost.

Image of Disney Parking Lot Tram Another example of some of the effects you can get on an image. I created this preset and cannot figure out what preset I started using – even my settings are off a bit so I will try to reconstruct this and present another example. The nice webbing effect in the sky and the sleek colors in the front tram area are apparent. To me, this is the way it should look at Disney. The original of this is one is also shown below to give you a comparison. Also Smart Photo Editor using Burton’s frame and lowered effect so some color came through, and Violet Dream effect was used for the border.
Original Images before Topaz Glow appliedTopaz has included their really great color sliders which gives a lot of flexibility to making the image colors look correct. I almost always adjust these sliders in both Glow and Impression. Also I seem to prefer the Multiply blend mode, but discovered that by reducing the Brightness slider some of the other Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light blend modes will work nicely. I also discovered that the Electrify slider can give some really crazy results so sometimes it needs to be reduced. Still exploring how all these sliders work together – lots of fun here!

There are a couple of things that can be done to make using this program a lot easier. First, check out the manual that does a pretty decent job of explaining all the sliders and what they do. (Go to Help -> User’s Manual) And what I consider is the best resource is to go to Topaz’s webinars website and watch their wonderful videos. UPDATE: Topaz has now posted a really good video called Introduction to Topaz Glow. I find it extremely helpful to know what the software designers were thinking when the program was designed and how others use the plug-in. For example, I learned that in the Neon Collection, if you do not like the non-natural colors in the preset, reduce the Edge Color slider by moving it left to get a more natural look. Or that the Heavy Metal presets look good on cars! Still working on that one. I believe Topaz does have some of the best instructional videos.

Bottom Line

If you love the special effects that so many of Topaz’s filters create, this is a definite “Yes” for you! It creates some very different results and works nicely with their other creative plug-ins. I have been having a lot of fun working on different types of images and will present more as the holidays get past. This is not just a neon filter, but lots of different effects that use the neon-type effect as a starting place. Topaz has once again created something totally different and for that I am grateful – no one else seems interested in doing this. It definitely adds something new in the “artistic” area to give more of a creative style to an image. Thank you Topaz!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Simply Glowing!


Image of outdoor cafe in Edinburgh, ScotlandSince such a busy week so I thought I would just post some of the painterly effects I have been trying and maybe give you some new ideas to improve your digital artistic flair! The above was done completely with Photoshop plug-ins – I am always amazed at how these results can be achieved with a little mix and matching! This image used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Clarity, Topaz Impression twice, Topaz ReStyle, and Nik Viveza 2. For the specific settings, check out Image 1 info at end of blog.

Image of some painted looking gondolasThese gondolas I had actually painted in Corel Painter before opening them up in the Smart Photo Editor. Check out Image 2 info for the shorter details in this case!

Image of some red roses paintedThis is an image I did mostly in Corel Painter 2015, but finished up in Photoshop. The roses were painted from an image taken at the grocery store and painted on a gray background where the finished image was saved as a Photoshop file in Painter. See Image 3 for more info.

Image of a Bird Still LifeThis image I set up and took in my home-sort of a little still life. Wanted to remind everyone that Photoshop still does a great job of getting that painterly look with its wonderful brush engine. This image used Melissa Gallo’s Antique Rose Canvas texture for the beautiful background effect. More info under Image 4 below.

I know I have said it several times before, but it is definitely a lot of fun to mix and match the different softwares and plug-ins to get different effects. This is definitely worth the time exploring if you are interested in creating unique artistic effects. Now that there are so many apps that can be uploaded to fix up phone images, it is hard to look unique and not just canned. That is why you have to pay attention to how these programs work together. Hope you get some time to paint and play with your plug-ins over the holidays and try out some new combinations……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Painterly Plug-ins – So Many Choices, So Many Choices!
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In
Getting Back to Playing in Photoshop

Image 1:  Started in Lightroom with a preset I created from David duChemin’s wonderful, but dated book, called Vision & Voice which used Lightroom 3. It is just a Split Toning setting which means it can be used with other Lightroom settings. Highlight Hue is 50, Saturation 60, Shadows Hue 266 and Saturation 35 – that’s it! I have used this preset a lot in the past as it creates a very pretty tint. Clean up was done to remove some people walking. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Clarity’s Color & Contrast Boost III preset was applied as is. On a new stamped layer, Topaz Impression’s Charcoal I preset was applied. Then the layer style was opened (double click on the layer to open) and set the Blend Mode to Divide, Opacity to 32%, Blend If Gray-This Layer white split tab (ALT and drag to separate) and set to 90/156. Added a Solid Color Fill Layer set to Color Blend Mode using R77G51B31 reddish/sepia tone. Topaz Impression was applied on a new Stamped Layer using my Watercolor-like effect on buildings preset – what the heck is this! Okay, this little preset is one I am using a lot in this plug-in so you would like to try it, here are the settings for SJ WC like effect on bldgs preset (started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0.) Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones – this is the secret to this preset. Next was Topaz ReStyle set to my SJ BW with greens preset (changed ReStyle blend mode to Color; Color Style Sat Primary -0.14, Secondary 0.48, Third 0.77 and Fifth -0.58; Lum Third 0.57; Basic Opacity 76% and blend mode Luminosity; Color Temperature -0.58, Tint -0.22, Saturation -0.11; Tone Black Level -0.59, Midtones -0.16, and White Level 0.36; and Detail Structure 0.73). On a new Stamped layer, opened Nik Viveza 2 and just add a little extra Structure, Contrast, Saturation and Warmth on the people in the center – basically my focal point area. Next another Stamped layer and Photoshop’s Gaussian Blur was applied using a Radius of 8.4. Adding a black layer mask, paint out just some of the signs so you cannot see all the writing too clearly – it draws away from the focal point. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add back some contrast. Next a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was added (Highlights Cyan-Red -5, Magenta-Green -4, and Yellow-Blue -37; Midtones Cyan-Red -2, Magenta-Green -6, and Yellow-Blue +17; and Shadows Cyan-Red +2, Magenta-Green -6, and Yellow-Blue -3). Next I painted a white edge frame around the image. This was a rather extensive workflow, but I love the results!

Image 2: The Photo art at a click of 050 preset by andrewb2012 was applied. (Here were the settings: Effect Controls: Master Fade all the way right; Multi-color Match 0.81, Exp -0.029, Highlight Clipping 0.254, High Clip Detail 0.044, Vibrance 0.673, Hue -1.000, Sat -0.312, Bright 1.156, Gamma -0.223, Contrast -0.085, High Clipl 0.421, High Clipl Detail 0.54, Vibrance 0.85, Hue 0.146, and Sat 0.265.) Used Grunge White Border by superdave to add the pretty edging, and then went out of Smart Photo Editor. Took the same layer back into Smart Photo Editor and applied the Photo art preset again with a little less Master Fade. This produced quite an interesting effect. This plug-in is so much fun!

Image 3: To learn to do this effect in Corel Painter, I have to thank Melissa Gallo and her Painter Workshop for Photographers and the Autumn Still Life Workshop. If you use Painter and want to get the most out of your brushes, definitely sign up for one of her future workshops. In Photoshop Two Little Owl’s Shabby Creek texture was applied and was set to Darker Blend Mode at 61% layer opacity. In the Layer Style the Blend If Gray This Layer white tab was split to 190/227. French Kiss’s Brayer Blocks 13 was added and a copy of the background layer was clipped to the png file (ALT+click between the layers to clip). A Stamped layer was created on top and Topaz ReStyle was opened using the Orange Bush in Snow preset (these settings were adjusted: ReStyle opacity 57%, Hue Primary -0.89, Third -0.31, and Fourth 0.30; Sat Primary 0.84 and Secondary -0.03; Lum Primary -0.06, Secondary 0.25, Third -0.62, Fourth -0.16, and Fifth 0.08; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Blend Mode Color; Temperature 0.22, Tint 0.50, and Saturation -0.17; Tone Black Level 0.41, Midtones -0.39, and White Level 0.13; and Detail Structure 0.86 and Sharpness 0.45). Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the top rose and add a little structure into the bottom two roses. Four New Layers were used to selectively sharpen and paint in to fix distracting areas. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added for more contrast and another Levels Adjustment Layer was created. The layer mask was turned to black by CTRL+clicking in the mask and painting back just the very center of the flower.

Image 4: This image was done totally in Photoshop following the directions of Melissa Gallo’s Painting with Photoshop. This was definitely the turning point for me in understanding the brushes and how to use them. This image was cleaned up a lot and Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the image. Most of the technique is how Melissa uses layers and brushes to get the final effect. Just wanted to let everyone to know that Photoshop can be very effective as an artistic form. Just experiment with the different types of brushes and you may be surprised how nice an effect you can get from them.