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Posts tagged “Topaz DeNoise 5

SOME OF THE BEST PHOTOSHOP “WORK-HORSE” PLUG-INS

Image of beautiful porch in Savannah, GeorgiaThis week I thought I would just give you a quick run-down of a few of my favorite plug-ins for Photoshop where at least a couple are used on almost every one of my images. These filters in most cases are not for major creative endeavors, although I have used them that way before (check out Detail 3 for some great abstract effects), but the ones needed to make your image perfect. I have listed several Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) products as they seem to do exactly what I like, but many other companies have some similar filters and would be fine if those are the plug-ins you own. The above photo used both Nik Viveza 2 and Topaz DeNoise along with the Photoshop Camera Raw filter.

**NIK VIVEZA 2**

This “oldie but goodie” product is one I use on almost all my images, whether on the actual images or digital paintings. Viveza is just totally mind-boggling when it come to fine-tuning the tone or color in your image. I use it as the last step for when the focus is not actually on the focal point as intended, or if a corner is just a little too bright compared to the rest of the image, or if a color just does not work in a part of the image. Works great as a Smart Object which is great since it may take a couple times to get the adjustment just right. It uses control points for small localized adjustments. The Nik products were bought by Google and can be downloaded to try out. I do not see any other plug-in that overlaps what this program does, except possibly the Photoshop Camera Raw filter – it can do some similar effects using the Adjustment Brush, but definitely not as easy. For my review on Viveza, check out my blog, Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
Image of View on Big Island, Hawaii
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**TOPAZ REMASK 5 **

Since I do a lot of animal and nature images, removing the objects from the original backgrounds is often necessary. ReMask is now so improved that it is totally worth the price if you do selections a lot. It really is better than Photoshop’s Refine Edge is most cases or any of the other plug-ins I own. I have written several blogs on this plug-in and that is why! Absolutely fabulous! See my blogs at  Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReMask 5 and And the Best Complicated Selection Tool is?
Image of a Snowy Egret
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**TOPAZ DETAIL AND TOPAZ CLARITY**

I still find the Detail plug-in is the best sharpening tool and use it on almost every image. Have used it for years. I also love Clarity (which uses contrast to control detail) – some images do better using Clarity, but for most of my images, Detail works best for me. Below is a good example of how good the Detail plug-in is and my review link at Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3. Image of a Native American Dancer
Here is one of my favorite Clarity images and my review link at Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Clarity.
Image of a farm in Belarus

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**TOPAZ DENOISE 5**

Image of the Wharf in San FranciscoMost of my images are not taken at night, but since I still use an older Nikon D300 (I can’t seem to give it up!) which does not work great in dark areas, this plug-in works incredibly! It will always work for me when this situation occurs. (Also works great on aquarium pix!) This image was taken using ISO 1250, which with my camera sensor is really grainy, but this filter totally clean it up. Usually just an Overall Strength slider tweak and sometimes extra work in the Shadows, and it comes out nice and crisp. Check out my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz DeNoise 5 blog for more information.

Well, there you have my basic filter run-down of the ones I use most often in my workflow. With some of the newer cameras, you many not need all of these. I know I am just very comfortable using those listed. There are some new filters out there that I have not had time to review – looking forward to putting Topaz Textures and OnOne Suite 10 (for website links, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) through their paces soon. Looking forward to trying out some new plug-ins! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CONVERT AN IMAGE TO B&W WITH HUE/SATURATION ADJUSTMENT LAYERS

Black and White Image of Daytona Beach This week I was watching some of Creative Lives‘s Photo Week shows and came across this wonderful black and white technique presented by Vincent Versace, another one of my favorite Photographer and Photoshop gurus. The image above is one I recently took at Daytona Beach on a beautiful September Day. I was trying to get across the point that cars are allowed on this beach, one of the few in Florida, but none were present on this weekday. This rather simple process was originally developed by the Adobe Evangelist Russell Brown and was described in his book from 2004 called The Photoshop Show.

What I learned is that to have a really good black and white image, you must first start with a really good color image – or to put it another way, color matters! The shot may have been taken to use as a black and white image, but the image must first be cleaned up before converting to the black and white. Vincent said do not do your conversion in a RAW converter like Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw as it comes in the workflow at the wrong place – need to do other things to image in Photoshop first. If you convert using  a single Channel or the Grayscale Mode (uses just the Green channel info) of the image, you lose tw0-thirds of the pixels in your conversion. Converting to LAB does not help either since you really only have the Luminosity Channel that can be used for the conversion. Therefore, the best way to convert your image into a black and white is to use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level with Saturation set to -100 where all three of the color channels (Red, Green, and Blue) will be available. By adding a second Hue/Saturation Adjustment set to Color blend mode underneath, the Hue slider can be used to change the contrast of the different colors, and the Saturation slider will allow for smaller contrast changes.

WORKFLOW

  1. First do the work that needs to be done to get image sharp and colors correct.
  2. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer on top, name it Film, and set the Saturation slider to -100.
  3. Next a second Hue/Saturation Filter is added between the image and the Film Adjustment Layer and set to Color blend mode. I named the layer Darken aspect.
  4. Duplicate the Hue/Saturation Filter two more times (CTRL+J), and name them Midtone aspect and Lighter aspect. This helps to keep the adjustments straight.
  5. Want to work the adjustment layers from the bottom up. On the Darken layer, use these settings: Hue -148, Sat +28, and Lightness 0. If you look at the image with the Film Adjustment Layer turned off, it looks really strange – just remember the adjustment is not for color correction but to add contrast in specific parts of the image.
  6. On the Midtone layer, use Hue +30, Saturation +34, and Lightness -2.
  7. On the Lighter layer, use Hue +41, Saturation +27, and Lightness -2.
  8. Now paint in the layer masks to direct the contrast effects you want. Vincent filled the Darken and Midtone Adjustment Layers with black and then paint back the areas to use. In the beach image, I liked the overall effect of the Darken adjustment and painted out with a black brush what I did not like. This is where the flexibility is. If you are having trouble telling what effect the adjustment layer is having on the image, turn off the Film adjustment layer, then turn on and off the individual adjustments below. You will see what color is changing in each adjustment which is where the contrast will change when the Film layer is turned on again.
  9. More Hue/Saturation adjustment layers can be added to target just a certain color by opening up the Master drop-down and choosing a specific color. The contrast for just that color will be adjusted when sliders are changed. Your image can get quite complex!

For step 1 above, Topaz (see website in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used to sharpen the image and Topaz DeNoise 5 to remove some of the noise that was in the blue sky. Also two Curves Adjustment Layers were set to Luminosity blend mode to get the umbrellas, water and sky to look correct. The layer masks were filled with black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the areas I wanted to emphasize were gradually painted back with a soft white low opacity brush.  Each of my blog images needed some tweaking first. The settings used in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers were ones Vincent used in his presentation. The nice thing is that if you do not like the results, you can always change them since the adjustment layers are non-destructive.

Black and white image of a small alligatorThis little alligator has a pretty nice place to live as the main attraction in a tourist shop in Daytona Beach. He was sitting under a nice toasty light which made the shot pretty easy. This is another example of using the exact same workflow but his eye was sharpened with an Exposure Adjustment Layer before the conversion to black and white. A little clone stamp clean up on a New Layer above was used to get rid of some of the distracting bright spots near his body. That was it.

Image of the face of a Native American dancer wearing a Jingle DressThis beautiful young lady was performing a healing dance in a special dress called a Jingle Dress. This is a rather rigorous dance with very colorful costumes and was taken at the 25th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. These events are always a wonderful place to take photographs. The same workflow again, except this time a Frequency Separation process was used on her face (it was applied rather lightly since this was not supposed to be a glamour shot), and the Sharpen Tool was used on some of the jewelry and blouse details. (Check out Retouching Skin Utilizing Frequency Separation for more info on this.) An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to sharpen the eyes. Then the black and white conversion was done.

I would highly recommend that you purchase Vincent Versace’s excellent video at Creative Live or buy his book if you find this technique intriguing. The video at Creative Live is for sale and is called Black and White Photography: Learning Grayscale Conversion. His recent book covers much more about this technique and is called From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man. Well I hope you get to try this wonderful technique, especially if you like black and white images. It really is quite easy and good results can be achieved. I love it when I find a new way of doing something that I have not tried out before. This one turned out to be great! Have a good week!……Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image
How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop


HOW TO USE AN ADJUSTMENT LAYER TO LOCALIZE LIGHT AND/OR DARK IN IMAGE

Image of miniature mums using Corel Painter in backgroundThis week I am going to discuss a really short but sweet way to increase areas to be brighter and darker in localized areas. Last week my Photoshop with Corel Painter for Texture blog covered how to use Corel Painter in image backgrounds, which is what was done in the above Miniature Mum shot. For this week’s technique, Pete Collins (one of the Photoshop guys) did a short video on the NAPP website (best deal for Photoshop Nuts to learn new tricks) a while back demonstrating this concept, but I have also seen it in other places.

The Technique

The basic premise is that you can use any adjustment layer – does not matter which one you choose – to create an overall brightening or darkening of your image by just changing the blend mode of the layer. So to brighten your image, select the Screen blend mode, and to darken your image choose the Multiply blend mode, for example. Now just fill the layer masks with black by clicking in the mask and pressing CTRL+I or going to the Properties Panel and clicking the Invert button. With a soft brush, or any kind of brush for that matter, paint back in white areas you want brighter for the Screen blend mode layer or darker for the Multiply blend mode layer. In the image above, an unadjusted Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was set to Screen blend mode and the white petals were painted back at a low opacity brush setting to dial in the focus a little more to the flower and yellow center. Next an unadjusted Curves Adjustment Layer was added and set to Multiply blend mode. The image became really dark. By filling the layer mask with black and painting back a slight vignetting effect, the focus could once more be directed to the flower effectively. If you want to add a little feathering for the vignette, go the Properties Panel and set it to 100 pixels as a starting point. The Layer Opacity was set to 68% so the vignetting was not too dark. (See screenshot of Curves Adjustment Layer below showing no changes made to it and corresponding layer highlighted in Layer Panel.) If you wanted the image lighter or darker, you can always duplicate the adjustment layers and then adjust the layer opacities to get the exact amount required. You can also make changes in the actual adjustment layer if it helps the image. This is such a wonderfully easy technique and it keeps the image size much smaller than if you were duplicating the layer each time. The text font is a free download called Adorable.

Screenshot of Curves Adjustment Layer

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Christmas Ornament of Santa Claus imageJust thought I would add a Christmas image that used the same technique above. This time the Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was set to Screen and the Santa Claus and Red M&M ornaments were painted back in the black layer mask. Then on top another Curves Adjustment Layer was set to Multiply – this time the outside edges were painted white in the layer mask to reveal darker edges, similar to the screenshot above. No Painter was used but it does use my free SJ-Snow2 Overlay – slight blur set to 65% layer opacity that I created last year. Last, Obsidian Dawn’s Merry Christmas brush was placed on a layer with a layer style added (using Bevel & Emboss, Stroke, Pattern – created using Christmas day by Photoshop-Stock pat 5 set to a scale of 332%) to get the candy cane look. I should also add that the first thing done in Photoshop was to apply Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) DeNoise, the best noise plug-in around, and Topaz Clarity, another favorite used to add a little localized sharpening on the Santa Claus.

This is definitely a really easy way to pop you images and get the lighting the way you want in your image without having to do a lot of Camera Raw, Curves or Levels adjustments. Hope you enjoyed this tip – have a great Turkey Day for my fellow US friends!…..Digital Lady Syd


Topaz Simplify Artistic Workflow

Been under the weather this week so I thought I would just go through my basic Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify 4 workflow. Nothing too fancy, but always a lot of fun to work with Simplify. The image above is a composite of a variegated leaf from Hawaii and the body of a Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly that was in my penta flowers. The butterfly body was selected and placed on its own layer before moving into the leaf image. On a composite image some of the colors in the leaves were swapped around using the new Topaz Clarity and then Topaz Simplify 4 was applied using my Tulip Preset to get the pretty colors. (The preset settings if you would like them are as follows: oost 0, Details Strength .80, Details Boost 1.29, Details Size 0.96, Remove Small 0.10, and Remove Weak 0.2o; Adjust: Brightness 0.02, Contrast 1.11, Saturation 0.60, Saturation Boost 2.06, Dynamics 0, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Edges – Color Edge: Normal, Edge Strength 0.00, Simplify Edge 0.60, Reduce Weak 24.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0.00.) While still in Simplify, another preset was applied, Sketch -> Pastel II preset with Transparency: Overall Transparency set to 0.52. The layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur was added to soften the details in the background. With a layer mask, the leaf and butterfly were painted back. On another composite layer, the wings effect was created using the CS6 Oily Classic Blender #4 Mixer Brush to smooth out the rough edges that are a dead give-away that you used Simplify. Just put an OnOne PhotoFrame effect on image (this program is no longer available) and FrenchKiss Studio 3 WhiteWash texture set to Soft Light to give a painterly effect. There were a few other steps and tweaks to get the color pop but overall it followed the workflow below. I love using the Mixer Brushes – always adds that more realistic feel to the Simplify images.
…..This may not be the perfect photo, and obviously I was not that enamored with it until Lightroom 5 came out with their Upright correction, but the more I looked at this image, the more interesting it was. And the color in the image turned out to be quite striking. Below you can see what is going on with all the people. What a treasure trove! You can see all kinds of activities and expressions with just the people in front of this busy cathedral. Very cool!
This follows one of my pretty basic workflows for getting a crisp artistic look to an image, not exactly painterly, but not a photographic effect either.

  • After using Lightroom to straighten up the image at least to an acceptable amount, the image was cleaned up in Photoshop and a sharpener added for clarity of the detail lines. Now is a good time to use both Topaz DeNoise and Detail – I use them both before doing any real painting or filtering of an image.
  • Next Topaz Simplify 4 is used starting with one of their presets, changing it, and saving as my own preset if I like the results and think I would want to use it again. The above images used this preset: Used Painting -> Watercolor preset as a starting point, then adjusted the following settings. Simplify: Color Space YCbC4, Simplify Size 0.46, Feature Boost 1, Details Strength 1.87, Details Boost 0.20, Details Size 0.58, Remove Small 0.10 and Remove Weak 0.20; Adjust: Brightness 0.02, Contrast 0.82, Saturation 0.85, Saturation Boost 2.06, Dynamics 0, Structure 1.00, and Structure Boost 1.00; and Turned off Edges Section.
  • A layer mask is added to the Simplify layer and areas are painted out where more detail was to be added.
  • A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer is added to adjust colors, green in the above case.
  • A New Layer is created and a Regular or Mixer Brush is selected, an artistic feel is added to the image. Above I used CS6 Oily Classic Blender Mixer Brush #4 (found in the CS6 Mixer Brush Tool Presets when Mixer Brush Tool is selected) for the tree branches to give a more “painterly” look to the image – this brush is excellent for smoothing out jagged edges on any of your images. The opacity of that layer was then set to 46%
  • Another New Layer was created to paint out distractions like wrong colors on white that draws the eye.

The last step for the Cathedral image was to add another a Hue/Sat Adj Layer to get rid of purple color in sign on Church (used a black layer mask and painted back just the sign in white). To see a different way I processed the same image, check out my Tidbits Blog called Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section.
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Used exactly the same workflow above except in the Topaz Simplify 4 preset, I also checked the Tones section and set the Tone Strength to .67. Some of the grasses did not look natural, so with a 30% soft black brush, parts of the detail in the grasses were painted back to give a more natural look and not so computer generated feel. I find Topaz does seem to do this if you do not get the Simplify slider set just right – that is OK because you will probably want to clean it up in Photoshop a little anyway. The Hue/Saturation Level was set to Colorize and a yellow color used (Hue 298/Saturation 63/Lightness -23). Then a Pastel Brush was used to paint the white blow out daisy flowers that now look yellow, with a couple pink colors to add interest. Several New Layers were created and the petals and edges of the petals were painted using pastel brushes with texture added and the Pencil Tool Watercolor Salt brush to paint around the edges of the flowers to give some additional texture to the flowers. This time two of Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures were added on top – 2 for Friday Set 5 Green Lake texture set to Soft Light at 77% opacity, and Set 2 Creamsicle set to Pin Light at 37% opacity. Both had a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer clipped to them with the Saturation slider to -100 so no color, just texture, was added to the image. I used my free Default SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style to finish up.
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Just one final image using the same workflow. This is a lovely little dasha in the countryside near the city of Minsk in Belarus – definitely has that fairytale look to it. The Simplify preset used was the Painting -> Dynamic Boost Warm preset, where the Simplify Size was set to 0.37, the Feature Boost to 2, and the Vignetting was turned off. I used OnOne’s PhotoFrame instead. On the Simplify layer, a layer mask was added and with a black soft brush set to 30% opacity, the detail was added back into the area where it was needed to keep it from looking too cookie-cutter. Used the Mixer Brush layer to clean up a few things. Some Curves, Levels, and Hue/Saturation Adjustments Layers to balance out everything and that was it!

It takes a while to get a really good look, but the plug-in definitely helps get you started. Hope this gives you a little bit of a workflow to help get started using this plug-in effect if you have not tried it before. I really love this plug-in – it is easy to use and easy to fit into an artistic workflow. I am not sure there are any other plug-ins on the market that do exactly what this one does. Lots of fun!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture
Using Topaz Simplify for That Artistic Feel!
Painterly Effect using Topaz Detail and Simplify
Topaz Simplify and Lens Effects Saves an Image!


A Little Kaleidoscope Fun!

This week I thought I would just do a quick little blog on the Kaleidoscope effect. Corey Barker, a great creative guru with Photoshop, did a tutorial called the Ultimate Kaleidoscope on the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) website where he taught you how to make this effect. Mark S. Johnson did a very similar video this topic – see Workbench 272 Simulating a Kaleidoscope if you would like to see how to do it. Mark later did a Workbench 288 The Lloyd Williams Kaleidoscope video using some templates to help you get this effect from Lloyd Williams Photography website. I used Lloyd’s templates and technique to create the kaleidoscope effect in the two images shown here. His website link has a very good step-by-step workflow on how to do this so I will not repeat the process. The template basically sets up what the two original videos teach you how to do, and has 7 different templates to use. Create one smart object layer using the part or all of your image, and then each Smart Object layer in the templates updates using the added image – no Photoshop action is used. Very ingenious! The background in the image above uses his 16_LoRez template. I added the Topaz (for website link see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Adjust 5 Comic Book preset on the resulting kaleidoscope look to get a more drawn line effect. The pattern had some little white lines created by the template that needed to be removed before the final kaleidoscope image could be moved it into my yellow daffodil image and used as a background. See the tych below of my original African Lilly image used to create the kaleidoscope look, top right the result after adding the image to the template, and the bottom right the final result after adding Adjust. See end of blog for details on how the daffodils were processed and the image finished.…..The above is just another example of the kaleidoscope effect using Lloyd’s 8_LoRes template. These are really fun to do and very easy. This is one of my miniature mums in this image. All I did with this image was add a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring out a little contrast and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and set the Blue Color to Cyan +34/Magenta 0/Yellow +41/Black -48; Neutrals Cyan and Magenta 0/Yellow +2/Black -13; and Blacks Cyan +3/Magenta 0/Yellow -5/Black 0. I just thought it turned out to be an interesting design.

There are other ways to create the kaleidoscope effect. The Plugin Galaxy has a kaleidoscope effect that I wrote about some in my Instant Mirror and Quick Mirror for Photoshop blog for a little different look. It is easy to get some interesting effect with images that are not that great. Give it a try and see if you like the results!…..Digital Lady Syd

Daffodil image post-processing:

The yellow daffodils were shot at my local grocery store using my Kodak point-and-shoot. It was not the best picture, in fact it was awful, but I love daffodils and wanted to try and salvage the picture. I did everything I could in Lightroom but it still needed a lot of work in Photoshop. Whenever I have a bad image but great colors, I like to think photo art since it is never going to be a really sharp clean image. So in this case, I actually cut the daffodils out of their background as it was so cluttered. I used the Refine Edge to smooth edges in a layer mask before applying it. Next Topaz DeNoise 5 with the Overall Strength slider set to .19 was used. On a duplicate layer of the daffodils, Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Feature Enhancement II preset. Duplicated the result again and this time applied Topaz Simplify 4 Impressions Natural without the Edges turned on. This created the beautiful painterly look that I wanted. Now the kaleidoscope texture could be put underneath this layer. Adjusted the color and contrast with Levels Adjustment Layer setting the Output Levels to 65 and 255, and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the Yellows turned into a Reds 2 by dragging in image to get effect I wanted (ended up Hue -90/Saturation +80) and Master set to Hue +29/Saturation -3/ Lightness -3. That is how I got the final effect to be more blue and yellow instead of the original green and blue. This was really just completely playing with it until I got something I liked. I decided I did not like the color of the flowers so I clipped (ALT+click between layers) a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and changed to color to more brown tones (Master Hue -10/Saturation -20/Lightness 0). I decided I did not like the sharp edges around the flower so I added a New Layer and with Fay Sirkis’s Signature Watercolor Smooth Blend Mixer Brush, I painted out the edges and anywhere I wanted to emphasize the painted area. This took a long time to get just right, but you can use the Eraser Tool and remove areas that did not turn out so good very quickly. French Kiss Studio 3 Wave texture was applied using Color Burn at 48% to get more blue tones into the petals and leaves. Next another Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Midtones tab was set to 1.60, and the Output Levels were set to 0 and 200. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added next to lighten up the whole image by just dragging up the middle of the diagonal line. And I was done! I really liked the result but it took a lot of effort to get the image – the kaleidoscope effect was the easy part!


How to Get That Creative Painterly Look

This week I decided to give a few examples of how I am getting the beautiful painterly look on images. This is the part of Photoshop I love the most – the creative part. And this is where I can take advantage of some wonderful plug-ins and textures that are now available.

I did not start out creating this fantasy painterly looking image, but I like it more the more I look at it. This image used just a basic cloud texture and Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Simplify 4 to get this dreamy effect. The image uses 5-shots taken along the road to Flagler Beach, Florida. I have always loved this house – it just looks like a Florida beach house to me. The HDR tone-mapped image was created using Photomatix Merge to 32-bit HDR in Lightroom and the resulting Tiff file was then processed. Once opened in Photoshop, Topaz Detail 3 was selected where the Lighten preset was first applied, and then the Overall Medium Detail II preset with the sky painted out to keep it smooth looking. Shadowhouse Creations beautiful free Puff Clouds texture was added in Normal blend mode at 100% opacity. I added a layer mask and painted out the clouds and started getting this really dreamy look by only removing the clouds from the house. Next Painted Textures 2 for Friday Seafoam texture was added and set to Overlay blend mode at 50% opacity. The last step involved creating a Composite layer of all the layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and applying Topaz Simplify 4 Painting V preset to it. On a New Layer above, a Mixer Brush was used to blend in the rough edges of the clouds and give an overall painterly look. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and the Blue Channel Curve was moved to get the color of blue in the image. That was it! Not real hard but definitely a very abstract artsy look. This was a lot of fun to create!

Tips for Getting the Painterly Look:

  • If you like to get a quick painterly feel, Topaz Simplify 4 cannot be beat! The nice thing is that once you apply the filter, even though it may look somewhat canned, you can always use Photoshop’s Mixer Brushes, layer masks, and various textures to make the image your own look – that is exactly what I did on the image above. Topaz Adjust also has several presets that can also give a very nice base painting look. See my blog Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Simplify 4 for more information on this blog.
  • I cannot say enough about using the right texture. Most of the sites I listed have either free or fairly inexpensive small sets to try out to see if you like what they do. Try different textures, and when you find a few you really like, put them together in a special file so you can get to them quickly when needed. (Click on Categories Textures for several links on this topic.) If you like what the color is doing to an image at a particular blend mode, leave it in place. With a layer mask you can paint in localized areas of texture.
  • Photoshop’s Mixer Brushes just cannot be beat for getting some really nice artistic results. They are great for hiding that very contrasty background, or for smoothing out edges, or blending colors that have too sharp a transition. The pink flowers below have the whole background smoothed to get rid of a very contrasty green garden behind them. On a separate layer, a larger sized Mixer Blending Brush was used to fill in the dark contrasty areas, then a smaller size was used to smooth edges. You can always erase areas where you make a mistake since the Mixer Brush strokes are on a separate layer. A couple things to remember when using the Mixer Brushes is that (1) in the Options Bar be sure you are set to Sample All Layers and turn off the layer eyeball if you do not want to pick up color from some of the layers; (2) the Blender Brush is probably the type to be used the most and should be set to a higher Wet field in the Options Bar to work easily – at least 20% and up to 100% give really nice results; and (3) the larger the brush, the longer it takes to lay down a stroke so keep it under 75 pixels if you can. Also take History Snapshots every now and then (or add a Padlock to your base image so you cannot paint on it) so if you get on the wrong layer, which is easy to do, you can go back to a previous step without losing all your previous painting. If you want to add color with a Mixer Brush, just click on the “Load the Brush After Each Stroke” icon (5th one over) in Options Bar. Make corrections with layer masks and apply them (right click and choose Apply Mask) as you go along. Create clone and paint on layers above and merge down (CTRL_E) – then use a Mixer Brush to blend. See my blog Adobe Photoshop CS5′s Mixer Brushes for lots more info on how to use them.
  • There are a couple other ways to get a really nice painterly effect. The brilliant Russell Brown has developed two scripts panels to use  inside Photoshop that guides you along as you paint. The oldest is called the Adobe Painting Assistant which has different download links for CS6 and CS5 versions – just keep scrolling. The newest panel is the Adobe Watercolor Assistant Panel that can only be used with CS6.  These are all free downloads at this link. The Watercolor Painting Assistant takes some practice to get a really nice result, but it will give a beautiful result. See my blog Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5! and Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose for more information on the older and more user-friendly Painting Assistant Panel.
  • The last effect that has proven to be a real hit the last couple of years is the new Oil Paint filter in Photoshop CS6, although it can be added to CS5 by using the Pixel Bender Panel. See my blog Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter for more information on how to use this filter. It is a lot of fun and easy to do!

To create this painterly effect, the pink Belarusian flowers were brought into Photoshop and cleaned up. A New Layer was created and Fay’s Signature Watercolor Smooth Blender Brush was used to smooth out the whole contrasty background.  I have looked at lots of painting tutorials and Fay Sirkis tutorials make the most sense to me. If you are a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals), and you should be if you love Photoshop – best value and site for Photoshop nuts, Fay has several great webinars on line there and you can download all her brushes. Here is a link to a great article on her unique technique where she shows how she made one of her Monet Blender brushes – if you want to give it a try – Fay Sirkis: Painting Magic, Adobe Photoshop CS5. Next Kim Klassen’s Cloth & Paper magicfilm3 texture, which is a black scratched up texture, set to Linear Dodge blend mode at 56% opacity was added – it gives just a touch of texture without losing all the strokes from the Mixer Brushes. The Sharpen Tool was applied to the center of the two main flowers to draw the eye and a Darken Layer was added and set to 56% to emphasize edges. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog for more info on this.)
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The painterly effect in the Flagler Fishing Pier image was created using a solarized preset and some soft painting with the Mixer Brush. Just had to get out and do a little shooting even though it was major chilly and windy at the beach. The original image was created from 5 images put together using Photomatix 32-bit Merge to HDR for Lightroom. Once in Photoshop I added two New Layers and added my Cloud Brushes SJ Clouds 1 brush (layer set to 60% opacity) and SJ Clouds 11 brush (layer set to 35% opacity) at 5000 pixels. A New Layer was added on top and filled with black, set to Soft Light, and the opacity set to 23% to increase the overall contrast of the image. (Check out Mark S. Johnson’s  Photography Site Photoshop Workbench 374: Creating Dramatic Lighting with Blend Modes on how to do this.) A Curves Adjustment Layer was added and Auto button pressed to get a nice contrasty image. Next Topaz (for website see sidebar) Adjust 5’s Solarized Dreams III preset was applied with Detail Strength set to 0.82 and Detail Boost set to 0. A New Layer was created and Fay Signature Watercolor Smooth Blend Mixer Brush was used to smooth out details in the foreground sand. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used and the Blues Cyan was set to +17 and Yellow to +24 – the layer mask was converted to black (CTLR+I inside the mask to invert) and the sky was painted back with a soft white brush. Another Selective Color Adjustment Layer as added to make the sand look the right color in the foreground – Yellows Cyan was set to +100, Magenta -14, and Yellow +1, and Greens Magenta +19. Next French Kiss Artiste Fauve Rainbow texture was set to Hard Light blend mode at 28% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (CTRL+click between the layers) and Saturation was set to -100 to remove the color from the texture but leave the canvas look. This is one of my favorite textures to give a real painted appearance to my images. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the center tab set to .85 to add just a little more contrast to the midtones. I really was surprised how painted this image turned out.
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This image uses Topaz Simplify 4 again and textures to get the painterly look. I decided to show this image as it is a favorite technique of mine to use the power of good textures to give that painterly effect. The basic image was very nice with to begin with and probably would have been fine with just the Lightroom tweaks, but I thought it would make a beautiful painterly piece. Topaz DeNoise was run on this image since it had a 2000 ISO setting. On a duplicate layer Topaz Simplify 4 was applied using the Watercolor II preset – in the Localized Adjustments section, the pink and white flowers were lightly painted back to bring back some detail but leaving the background with a very soft look. Once back in Photoshop the detail was still not strong enough so the DeNoise layer was duplicated and placed on top of the Simplify layer. A black layer mask was added and the flowers were softly painted back using a white low opacity brush to add a bit more localized detail to the image. Two beautiful textures from Melissa Gallo at Painted Textures were added on top: 2 for Friday Set 2 Creamsicle at Hard Light blend mode at 74% opacity, and Cyber Monday Set 1 Winter Wheat set to Linear Light blend mode at 78% opacity. On the top texture a Layer Style was opened and on the Blending Options page, the B channel was turned off. One of my new favorite textures is by French Kiss – Studio 3 White Wash – it was added using the Overlay blend mode at 65%. All of these textures are really great for getting the painterly effect. Once all these textures are added, you really have to try different blend combinations and opacities. It is not at all unusual to have to add a layer mask and paint out areas that are not working right. In this image I added a layer mask to the white wash texture and painted out just a little bit around the edges of the flowers to get them to stand out a little. In fact I had actually added a different top texture and decided I did not like it and started looking for a different texture when I came up with the white wash texture. I had to back and add a Mixer Brush layer to get rid of some distractions in the original image once the textures had been added and it looked bad. If you do not like the way the painterly effect is flowing, it probably is not quite right and you need to walk away and come back again later – it really is a work of art you are working on.

If you just want a nice painterly brush texture on top of the whole image, check out my Getting a Nice Painterly Landscape Effect with Topaz Simplify and Texture for a short workflow – this gives a nice finishing look to an image if there is not enough of a painterly effect already.

I hope you got some new ideas for creating that artsy look. Check out some of my related blogs for more examples and resource links that might help you along. This was a lot of fun to put together this week and I hope you enjoyed it!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 6: Try Something New!
Photo Art Compositing For Fun
Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow
Using Topaz Simplify for That Artistic Feel!
Using a Couple of My Textures
Simplifier and Simplify Filters
Topaz Adjust Using Painting Venice Preset – Beautiful Effect!
Topaz Simplify and Lens Effects Saves an Image!


Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz DeNoise 5


For years I have resisted the temptation to buy noise software – it seemed awfully expensive for how much I needed to use it. When Lightroom 3 (and Adobe Camera Raw) came out with their new Noise Reduction sliders in the Effects section, I thought – this is all I needed! But as I am learning more about shooting images and attempting the “harder to get” shots, having a more powerful noise reduction plug-in at my disposal is absolutely necessary. I downloaded a trial of Topaz DeNoise 5 and am discovering that some of my images have more of a noise issue than I realized. If you like to shoot at night, or need to set your camera to a high ISO level (1250 and above) due to movement in your image, then you introduce some big problems. That is what happened to me in these examples. The image above is one I took through a window (with lots of reflection) in a low lighted restaurant on a very cool night at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I really thought there was no way I would get a nice result of this beautiful view from my table. The image was shot at ISO 1250 and the original Camera Raw image was very bright and totally grainy. I was very surprised how quick Topaz DeNoise 5 (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) fixed up the noise in this night image – just one preset, RAW Moderate Preset, was applied and that was it! Bottom Line – definitely a sound choice for removing noise at any level!

Two things need to be done to use this plug-in effectively: 1) Make sure the Noise Reduction and Sharpening sliders in Lightroom and/or Adobe Camera Raw are turned off (if using Lightroom 3 make sure the Black slider is set to 0 also), and 2) use DeNoise first to avoid other problems cleaning up the image. The sliders are pretty intuitive once you play with them a little – usually all I am using is the Overall Strength slider and sometimes Recover Detail. The manual is an excellent resource if you have a bigger problem in your image.

This Flame Thrower image was cut out of a low resolution movie as a JPG from a luau at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii. I have had a lot of trouble getting good image quality from my movie shots of that evening to look clean and sharp. This was a difficult image to clean up but with some effort, it does remind me of the luau show. In DeNoise the settings I ended up using were Overall Strength set to 0.10 and Adjust Shadow set to -0.09, but it also needed Recover Detail slider (which subtly brings detail back into the image) set to 0.30 and Reduce Blur (intelligent deblurring to fix soft or blurry edges) to 0.39. I am finding that when I use the Detail Recovery sliders I have to adjust the Overall Strength more. These sliders appear to be unique to the DeNoise program and I love them.  Topaz recommends creating presets for each of the ISO settings on your camera(s) once you get settings you like. I created a preset for my movie images using the above settings. (Set preset to Absolute only if using preset for a series of images; use Relative when taking different kinds of shots with your camera and are using different ISO settings-the program will read changes in the image.)

This image was taken at SeaWorld‘s large Shark and Manta Ray Exhibit in Orlando, Florida. It was really hard to capture moving fish in a dark environment so they were not too blurry – an ISO setting of 1600 needed to be used to get the shot. DeNoise really helped clean up this image. Below is a comparison of what the image looked liked as a Raw image in Lightroom without Lightroom changes or DeNoise applied at 2 to 1 view.

Here is a similar shot as it appears in Photoshop at 200% view after Lightroom and DeNoise was applied but before the clean up layer and Curves Adjustment Layer were added.

To really see how the effect is being applied, the image should be viewed at 2 to 1 in a mid-tone area. It is not necessary to overdo getting rid of noise, a little remaining will not hurt an image. One of the features very unique to DeNoise is the ability to preview the noise not just in RGB , but also in the Luma, Color, Red and Blue. I usually start by previewing on the RBG mode and adjust the Overall Strength to get a feel for what the noise reduction is doing to the image. Next I go to Luma – sometimes there is more in this preview and the slider needs to be adjusted a little more. What I really like though is that on the tough images, the Blue  and Red Previews are great – you can adjust out splotchy areas by moving the Adjust Color – Red and/or Adjust Color – Blue component sliders a little bit to remove. Usually I finish up with the Detail Recovery sliders. For the above image though, only the Overall Strength slider was set to .33 and Recovery Detail to .30. I really do not use the other sliders very often as I don’t seem to need that much adjustment. Nichole Paschal at Topaz Labs has done a great video called Introduction to Topaz DeNoise – Remove Image Noise, Recover Important Detail that goes into more detail on how to get good results with all the sliders – definitely worth checking out if you download the trial. Also there is a really good banding section if your image has color noise across the image (often seen in JPG images especially) – I have not had to try this yet. I used a Curves Adjustment Layer to open up the shadow areas a little more back in Photoshop.

Bottom line – I am really enjoying this plug-in. It does a good and fast job of noise reduction with just a couple slider adjustments. But if you run into that difficult image, the tools are available to adjust these issues. I am very happy with the results I have gotten – and once again Topaz gives free upgrades when you purchase their products, so any new advancements are yours. Got to love this plug-in!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:

Clowning Around with Topaz!
Topaz DeNoise 5 and InstaTone