Anything Photoshop or Photography

Posts tagged “Topaz Detail 3

HOW TO USE THE PUPPET WARP TOOL CREATIVELY – RECYCLED

Image of a white rose from Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida
This week I am recycling another one of my “oldies but goodies” where the Puppet Warp is used in a pretty cool way. I added the White Rose image above from the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, to show that the petals can be easily adjusted using the Puppet Warp Tool. The rose was much flatter and vertical, but by pinning and dragging around the points, the petals were pulled out to create a much more flattering arrangement. Also applied Topaz (for website, see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar) new Adjust AI filter to get the luminous petal effect. To learn the basics on how to use the Puppet Warp Tool (as in straightening buildings or objects), see my older short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! Tidbits Blog which is still good. And also check out my more recent Puppet Warp Replay Fun Photoshop Blog. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend – I am – nice to take a summer break! Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville sign at City Walk in Orlando, FloridaJust having some fun with this week and trying some new things out. This is the sign on the restaurant for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at City Walk in Orlando, Florida. So the reason this is rather “wonky” is because I decided it looked kind of good “wonky!” This sign was at the top of the building and was not shot straight on, so the sign on the right side was further away than the side on the left. There was lots of reflection in the restaurant windows in the original since it was taken during the brightest part of the day – totally awful! And the blue lettering and the parrot were almost indistinguishable in the sign. I thought this would make a good image to experiment with the brushes created in my How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting blog. First the image was cropped in Lightroom and then opened Photoshop where it was taken into the Edit -> Perspective Warp command to see if it could be salvaged. It actually did a pretty good job on it but there were a few disturbing areas. It was tweaked using the Edit -> Puppet Warp command and that is when it went “wonky” – I just started pulling and pushing the pins all over and got this really whimsical look that I liked – it looks like the sign is on the top of a sombrero. (For info on how to really use this tool effectively, see my short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! blog.)

It occurred to me that Puppet Warp is actually very similar to the Warp Tool in Free Transform (CTRL+T). On a New Layer on top the sky was blended using the Creative Toons Mixer brush from my linked blog. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was opened and an underpainting look was created. (Here are my settings: Topaz Detail 3 – used Abstraction II preset. Made changes to Tone Cyan-Red -0.69, Magenta-Green -0.12, and Yellow-Blue 0.09; Color Temperature 0.30, Tint 0.02, Saturation 0.05, and Saturation Boost 0.02; and Effect Mask – Painted out the effect off the bird’s face, trees, and Jimmy Buffett’s lettering using a Brush Strength of 0.45, Brush Size 0.11, Hardness 0.66, and Flow and Edge Aware at 1.00; and Overall Opacity set to 1.00.) This layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 89% layer opacity and on a layer mask the lettering was painted out to make the Jimmy Buffett’s lettering show up better. In the Layer Style dialog, the Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+click on the tab and pull apart) and set to 56/77 to really darken down the sky. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog) How I came up with this I do not know, but on another stamped layer above, the image was inverted by clicking on the layer and pressing CTRL+I – now it was all white looking. A black layer mask was added and just the same lettering was painted back. Looked terrible so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was added to turn the lettering from the ugly yellow to bright red – now you can see it. On another New Layer I used the SJ-Kahara Regular brush from my linked painting blog to paint on the sky around the the bird and trees to make them stand out a little more and add some interest to the night sky. On yet another stamped layer a Camera Raw Radial Filter was added to just the parrot’s head (hum) to bring the focus to him. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the green color in the image and that was about it. Oh yes, lastly added Jack Davis’s Wow Texture 02 (got this style along with many others from the CD in a little gem of a book called Adobe Photoshop 7 One Click Wow)– this to give a more painterly look. Whew!

Image inside the Trolley Train Ride at Universal Studios Orlando This image was shot looking up at the center from the stairs going up to get on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios Orlando. I really loved the bright colors but was not quite sure what to do with the image. It seemed like a good candidate to try a little Puppet Warping on, so that is what you see. In Lightroom the image was cropped and Seim’s Power Workflow 4 Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset was used to help with this issue. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, the Puppet Warp Tool was used. Once again, the mesh was turned off first. Then pins were stuck in each corner to hold the image still. The various pins were placed and dragged to get this crazy result. Back in Photoshop Topaz Adjust was opened and a preset I created called Negative Preset was applied with no changes. (Here are the settings: Global Adjustments Adaptive Exposure 0.07, Regions 50, Contrast -0.02, Brightness 0.00, Protect Highlights 0.02, and Protect Shadow; and Finishing Touches Warmth 0.18, Border Size 0.26; and Vignette Strength -1.00, Vignette Size 0.01, Vignette Transition 1.00, and Vignette Curvature 0.87.) It gave it a bit of the surreal look. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Member Freebie of July 2012-57 was applied and set to Hard Light blend mode at 61% layer opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+drag tab) and set to 125/191 and the white tab was also split and set to 215/255. This pulled back some of the texture from the image to get this kind of nice effect. Her Ultimate Texture Collection Chalkboard Burgundy was applied at Soft Light and 100% layer opacity. Three New Layers were added with painting on each to smooth out the white highlights in areas that were distracting. A stamped layer was created on top and set to Multiply blend mode and a white layer mask was used to bring back the texture details in the darker areas. Another stamped layer was created and my free SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style was applied with the default colors. I think it turned out to look a little scary!

Image of the Giraffes in a Store Sign at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios OrlandoThis was just too much fun to stop at one image. The puppet warp was used to warp another store sign in Seuss Landing at Universal Studios. These funny giraffes are from the first Dr. Seuss book called And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. I wanted to show a painterly image that had very little brush painting done in it – all done with filters and textures. Ran the same Shake Reduction Filter in Photoshop, selected the plain blue sky using the Select -> Color Range Tool, and added Melissa Gallo’s Painted Texture called June Seashore (I do not think it is available anymore) for a bluish sky that looked like painted clouds. Next a new texture by French Kiss called Color Wash Sage was added. What really made this image get this rather grainy illustrative look was in the layer style of the layer (double click on the layer to open). The Blend Mode was set to Color Dodge at 94% opacity and 95% Fill Opacity, and the Blend If This Layer White Tab was split (ALT+drag to get a smooth transition) and set to 224/255; the Underlying Layer Black tab was split and set to 29/47 and White tab split and set to 145/177. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top but a huge color shift occurred. This is because the blend mode of the texture below was set to Color Dodge and this happens – to get rid of this just set the stamped layer blend mode to Color. Decided to try the whole image in Topaz ReStyle and voila, instead of a blue image, I had pinks and warm tones which I really liked. (Here are the ReStyle Settings: colors based on Orange Peel preset – ReStyle Color Style Hue Fifth 0.53; Sat Fifth 0.41; and Lum Primary -0.48; Texture Strength 0.00; Basic Color Temperature -0.31, Tint 0.61, and Saturation 0.11; Tone Black Level -0.31, Midtones -0.02, and White Level 0.02; and Detail Structure 0.38 and Sharpness 0.16.) The last step added my SJ Thin Double Edge Frame on a top stamped layer – sampled colors in the image to get the frame colors.

Sometimes it is just fun to play with the different tools and see what results you get. I think I would get bored if I did the same workflow on every piece I did. Sometimes you have to when working on a special occasion or group of images, but it is kind of nice to take a break and try something different. Until next time – Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer


UPDATED CLARITY NOW IN TOPAZ STUDIO

Image of a Tri-colored Heron at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmThis week Topaz released an update to their very popular Clarity plug-in and it is a really nice upgrade. It is now much improved over an already excellent filter that is one of the best Photoshop plug-ins around. The Heron above was not processed very  much in Lightroom, all in Clarity Topaz Studio and a little in Nik Viveza to adjust the light on the birds head and wing tip. Before going any further, please be aware that Topaz is not going to update the actual Topaz Labs version if you own it. Instead it will be updated in Studio (to download go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar and for more info check out my see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog) before adding the Clarity update. If you have Studio already running, just go to the website to find the Clarity update by clicking this link. Topaz does a great job of walking you through this new process on the Topaz Studio website. So what is so different?

It is all in the Clarity Interface. In Photoshop, the new Clarity update will now be linked as Clarity in Topaz Studio (Filters -> Topaz Studio -> Clarity) instead of in the regular Topaz Labs individual plug-ins. By selecting Clarity, an interface very similar to Topaz Studio will appear that contains two adjustments, Precision Control and HSL Color Tuning. See image below for an example of the bird as it looked in Clarity for Studio (click to see large view Flickr). Screenshot of Precision Contrast section in Clarity for Topaz Studio

Precision Contrast Adjustment

As you can see the Clarity Dynamics section from the Topaz Labs Clarity plug-in is now called the Precision Control Adjustment. The Contrast section contains the original Micro, Low, Medium and High Contrast sliders but the website says they are now much improved – I believe they are after using the update on the bird image. Some of the feathers on the bird are crazy sharp! The Lighting section sliders are better at detecting the Shadows, Midtones and Highlights – these appear to be derived from the original Toning Section Black Level, Midtones, and White Levels sliders. Also there are Equalization buttons (low, medium, or high) which are supposed to emulate the Region technology in Topaz Adjust. I have not fully explored this. The Preset drop-down has several choices for setting up these sliders (Balance, Brighter, Brightness, Color Detail, Color Boost, Details, HDR, Little Things, Reduce Shadows, Saturation Boost, and Sharp). This image shows settings for the Color Detail preset. There are also presets on the left side which I did not use for this image. All your original Clarity presets are migrated over. Unfortunately at this time there are no subcategories so one long list of presets occurs – I cannot seem to figure out a logical order to them and my personal presets are all over the place. The good news is that there is a field for searching for your presets if you can remember what you named them. Hopefully Topaz will address this situation in a future update.

HSL Color Tuning Adjustment

The second part of the original Clarity was called Hue/Sat/Lum and now is called HSL Color Tuning. Not a lot different other than each color has individual sliders where the color is shown in the image, and a Gray Color is available. Also some presets are in a drop-down (Extreme Hue I and II, Increase Cool, Increase Warm, Red Cool, Red Warm, Subtle Hue I and II). Three new sliders have been added: Details (to help recover detail lost from increasing the brightness of the different color or whole image), Suppress Artifacts (to remove rough and unnatural edges and helps reduce artifacts to reduce detail), and Color Sensitivity (set higher to add saturation in the whites and grays in surrounding image). Not sure I understand how these setting work exactly yet, but the website does a good job of telling what they do.

By using the Studio interface, each adjustment can be masked, different blend modes applied, and opacity adjusted. So there really is  a major benefit to using the upgraded version in Clarity for Studio. In the screenshot below, you can see the Precision Control mask created for this image. I did not want the background to appear crisp, so by clicking on the plus sign on the upper right of the adjustment, a layer mask is opened. I inverted it and used the Brush tool to just paint back the bird. The brush tool has really been improved – it does not crash my system if too many strokes are made too quickly.
Screenshot of Layer Mask in Precision Contrast Adjustment in Clarity for StudioTwo HSL Color Tuning Adjustments were used: One to change the green color in the upper right corner (a layer mask was used to localize the color change), and one to emphasize the Red, Green and Blue colors, and adjust the Details, Suppress Artifacts and Color Sensitivity sliders. See screen shot below.
HSL Color Tuning Adjustments in updated Clarity in Topaz StudioIf you bought the Pro Adjustments pack from Topaz Studio, the Clarity updated sliders will also be in the Precision Contrast and HSL Color Tuning adjustments in Topaz Studio. If using the stand alone version of Topaz Studio, I do not see at this time a specific link to the Clarity for Studio update in the menu for those who previously owned Topaz Labs Clarity. I believe the two Adjustments will just be added to the regular Topaz Studio interface. Note that you can still reach the original Topaz Labs Clarity plug-in (and all your other plug-ins) in both the stand-alone version and the Photoshop Filter version by going to the Plug-ins in the top options menu of either Clarity for Studio or the Topaz Studio interfaces. Image of Holyrood Castle carvingsThe image above is from Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Clarity in Studio did a great job on the detail of the stone carvings. A Dodge and Burn 50% gray layer was added to finish up, but Clarity did most of the detail work in this image. It also does a great job on landscapes so give that a try too. Below is a house located in the Scottish Highland and is probably a little over the top with processing, but I like the almost illustrative artsy effect. Instead of using the HSL Color Tuning Adjustment, the Dehaze Adjustment from the Pro pack was used to make the tree colors sharper – a preset was made in the Community called SJ Clarity PC with Dehaze that you can download to try out the settings. Then I also added one of my favorite Topaz plug-ins, Detail 3, and set the Med Detail to 0.38, Large Detail to 0.15 and Tone Contrast to 0.30 set to 59% layer opacity. That was about it. The combination of Clarity and Detail is one I actually use quite a bit when I want this type of look.
Image of a Scottish Highland mansionIt appears that Topaz will now be using the Topaz Studio as the location for all upgrades to their plug-ins that are currently linked in Photoshop as Filter -> Topaz Labs -> Topaz (plug-in name).  I know Topaz is one of the best software groups around and they will answer any questions you have if there is a problem with the upgrade. It took me a while to figure out how to add the upgrade. And I did have to update my video card after loading it as all the sliders disappeared. Topaz suggested on their website to try this if there are problems and gave you a step-by-step guide to follow. I hope you will all enjoy this update. I am finding it to have wonderful results. Hope you get a chance to give it a whirl this week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Image of a Cape Griffon Vulture Mom and Baby at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWhile visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, I decided to take a spin around some of their other exhibits and see what was going on. In fact that is where the An Army Tortoise Tidbits Blog image started. Well not only are the Florida birds having babies, but so are some other bird inhabitants, the Vultures – in fact there were two chicks born in recent months.  Above is a wonderful Cape Griffon Vulture baby boy chick born on March 4th.  For some reason he is being raised by a foster mom (Sefara as seen in the image) and foster dad (Kwa) – I can honestly say they keep all the other birds away from him. He is only one of four hatched chicks in North America and all were born here. Below is a family portrait of the Hooded Vulture chick with her family. This baby was very quiet and I could hardly see her in my camera, but apparently she had spotted me. This baby girl was born on February 24rd and is sitting with her parents Ashaki and Bosco (the adult bird that acts a lot like her mother). It looks like the dad is wearing a tux quietly in the background!  Both vulture species are on the Endangered Species list. Lots of noise going on in this exhibit!
Enough about the birds – they are just so fascinating! Not a lot was done to the Cape Griffon Vulture image other than my overall workflow with a pretty good dose of Topaz (for website link, see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 to pop those feathers just a little. (Here are the settings used – apply to images that are a little soft in places, especially on birds and their feathers: Small Details 0.60, Small Details Boost 0.12, Med Details 0.22, Med Details Boost 0.22, Large Details -0.02, Large Details Boost -0.08. I called this preset SJ Add Detail. Add a black layer mask (click in white mask and press CTRL+I) to the layer after exiting out of the plug-in and just paint back where needed in the image. Use a large low opacity brush like 20% and build up the effect to make it look natural; use a smaller brush on dark lines that need to be more emphasized. It is easy to overdo this so try adjusting the layer opacity to reduce the effect.) Used a couple Exposure Adjustment Layers on the eyes and beaks (see my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog), and Nik Viveza 2 to adjust the focus more onto the chick and less on the Mom. Used Matt Kloskowski’s subtle vignette (see my How to Create a Subtle Vignette blog). A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to emphasize just a couple colors in the image, keeping it mainly in a light sepia tone. Birds can be tricky when shooting – it seems like they are perfectly still, but they actually are moving a little bit of a wing or foot or something. When you get ready to process their images, it is easy to see. Birds are pretty amazing and agile.

For the Hooded Vulture Family portrait below, pretty much the same work process but without the desaturating effect. This image was actually not as good since they were way off to the side and I had to do a massive crop. Not much of the Topaz Detail 3 plugin effect was added into this image – just in a few places like with the dark area of the back bird and a few of the Mom’s  bird feathers.
Image of a Hooded Vulture Family with the chick at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWell hope everyone is celebrating a great Mother’s Day or at least giving your Mom’s a call! We only get one day a year to enjoy the kids we are so proud of, just like the Cape Griffon Vulture and Hooded Vulture Moms!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO CREATE A SUBTLE VIGNETTE

Image of the View from Sterling Castle in ScotlandThis week I thought I would share a Vignette tip that Matt Kloskowski (one of original Photoshop Guys and one of my favorite gurus) presented in his Bonus #1 Video called The Do’s and Don’ts of Lightroom/Photoshop Workflow (BTW it is a downloadable mp4 file). This is a good overall video, but his section on creating a subtle vignette was brilliant tip. I find I am now using this all the time and it is a really easy workflow. The image above was taken from Stirling Castle in Scotland and was an incredible panoramic view of the local area. It is a good example of how subtle the effect is. This vignette should be applied at the end of own workflow after all the changes to the image have been done.

Content Aware Move and Abstract Painterly Effect

First I will share a quick tip discovered before applying the vignette The above original image took a tremendous amount of clean up as there were trucks, garbage cans, and road cones all over the place. Instead of trying to clone and spot heal over some of the larger objects (like a large truck in this image), the Content Aware Move Tool (in group with the Spot Healing Brush) was used to select and move the truck down into the trees (make sure Mode field says Move). Since the Transform on Drop was checked, the truck was reduced to a really tiny spot in the corner and could easily be removed with the Spot Healing Brush or Backspace to remove it. Of course some clean up had to be done on the original truck spot, but it was much less work to do. I found this worked better than using the Content Aware Fill command so give it a try if other methods are not working well. For a good explanation on these tools, see the Patch and Content Aware Fill Tools, see the short video Content Aware Patch and Move by Adobe’s Julieanne Kost, another great PS guru. By letting PS to do the initial work, it takes a lot less time. To get the soft painterly effect, Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Detail 3 was used – all the Detail sliders were set to -1.00 and the Boost were set to 0 – then adjusted the Tone and Color section  sliders to get this rather abstract feel. Back in Photoshop a layer mask was added to paint  back in some detail.

Vignette Workflow

The last step was to create the Vignette:

  1. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and drag out to surround the focal point of your image. Hold down ALT key and Spacebar to move selection around the image to position.
  2. In Options Bar click on the Select and Mask button and go the Feathering slider. Depending on your photo resolution, set the feathering to blend nicely into the background. For the above a 120 px feather was used since my photo did not have that many pixels in it. For larger formats 300 px may be necessary.
  3. At this point click Invert button at the bottom of the panel and set Output to: Selection.
  4. Put selection on its own layer by pressing CTRL+J.
  5. Change the blend mode to Multiply and adjust the layer opacity (18% in the above image).

Matt explained that it looks good because the vignette is made from the photo itself rather than adding a black overlay on top of the image.

*****
Yellow Flower with Bee taken at Harry P. Leu GardensThis image was taken at the Harry P Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Had to zoom in close to get a good look at the little “Acrobat” in the flower. The pretty golden colors was achieved using one of my favorite Lightroom presets I call TChurchwell Aging Photo (to create, view short video called Aging a Photo before Painting) and adjusting the Radial Filter to fit on the bee. In Photoshop a light beige texture by Kim Klassen (a lot of her textures are no long available – most have a soft grainy look and a few are still for sale) was added and set to Linear Light at 34% layer opacity. New layers were created for clean up, a painting to cover up distracting background objects, and the Sharpen Tool on just the bee and foreground flower.  Then a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and the Vignette workflow was followed. The vignette was set to 34% layer opacity to get this final effect. I really liked the soft feel in the whole image.

Below are what just the two vignette layer’s feathering looks like after the Multiply blend mode was applied but before the layer opacity was adjusted. (Note the white ovals are actually transparent in the PSD file so the image below shows through.) It can be as subtle as you want. The left vignette was set to 18% and the darker right image was set to 34% layer opacity as the final step.

Image of Vignette Tych
Hope you get a chance to try out this vignette effect – I think you will really like it. Matt K usually is right on with this tutorials. Have a good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd


LIGHTROOM FOR ANIMAL PHOTOGRAHY

Image of a Sumatran Tiger at the Jacksonville ZooI was catching up on some videos from last year and ran across one that turned out to be really interesting. It is called How to Turn Your Zoo Photography into Fine Art with Lightroom by Serge Ramelli. Since I like to photograph animals at the various zoo and theme parks around here, I gave it a go and thought I would share his rather simple workflow. Be sure to check out the link as Serge offers 5 Develop presets and 2 Adjustment Brush presets to use on your images (and he also has some other very good videos on Photoshop at his site).

The image above is of a Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo – this is one of the tigers they use for demonstrating his breed – very nice cat. Once you have downloaded the presets and placed them in Lightroom (his video goes through this at the end), I always create a Virtual Copy to work with so the original can be used again if needed.

  1. Try looking at all his presets and choose one that looks good. The above image used his Zoo Base I preset. All the settings are set up so only a tweak here or there might be needed. The Develop Basic and Detail sections are where the adjustments are made. You can always go back to these after finishing the steps and adjust them more if the effect is not quite right.
  2. Now is a good time to Crop the image before you set up the Gradient Filters, but it can be done later.
  3. Select the Gradient Filter and add a New dot on on the right side of the image. Set the Effect drop-down field to Exposure or try out the Zoo Darken Brush. Now move the Exposure slider to select the correct amount of vignette, he softened the Clarity a little as it smooths the dark areas, and finally the Noise is set to +100. Just drag out the gradient towards the subject. Do this for the other three edges.
  4. Select the Adjustment Brush and in Effect drop-down, choose Zoo Darken Brush and paint in on parts that need to be darkened a little on main animal or subject. Switch to Zoo Brighten Brush in Effects drop-down and paint over areas that need to be lightened – basically doing dodging and burning here. Can adjust any of the other sliders to get the correct look and can add new points to get a great finished look. Try adding one for just the eyes by zooming in.
  5. Go back and tweak any of the settings since this is the beauty of Lightroom!

This is when I take my images into Photoshop and add some more filter effects. The tiger image used the Nik Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in applied to it in specific places using Darken/Lighten Center, Detail Extractor (control point on face only), Glamour Glow and Pastel (set to 46% opacity) filters. That was all that was done. Not sure mine exactly fine art but it does give a very pleasing look and the background has definitely been toned down a lot. Serge used more vignetting in his images so check out the video link for those settings.

*****
Image of a Western Lowland Gorilla from the Jacksonville ZooThis guy was definitely watching everyone in the area – I think he is in charge of this part of the Jacksonville Zoo. Used the same preset as above – the Zoo Base I is my favorite. Added the gradient filters and adjustment brush strokes and took the image into Photoshop. At this point the image had a lot more background color and was not cropped to the final size. In Photoshop Nik Viveza 2 was used to do a little more sharpening and brightening in the right places. A black and white Adjustment Layer was added and set to 37% layer opacity to slightly remove the color. Then the final crop was done. The desaturated look seems to suit this guy.

*****
Image of a Giant Tortoise at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmThis Giant Tortoise resides at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and is hard to miss! I think he is eating twigs. This time the Zoo Sepia preset was used as a starting point in Lightroom and more of the Basic sliders were adjusted to get a global effect that looked good. Then the Gradient Filters were added and the Adjustment Brush was used to brighten up his face. In Photoshop Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3 Highlights was opened and the Highlight Detail 1 preset was selected. A black layer mask was added back in PS and just the focal areas were painted back in. On a Stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened up and a new preset was created. Used a rusty edged grayish texture, some edge blur for the background but not the turtle, a light leak that had some turquoise for the shell, and a few Basic Adjustment settings were applied. In the masking section, painted back the face a little. This layer was set to 67% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, used Nik Viveza 2 just on the face to lighten it up a little more. Last step involved adding a Levels Adjustment Layer to slightly flatten out the dark edges – painted back the face so it was not affected.

These presets are very nice. It is an easy way to really set off the animals and remove some of the distractions that are usually inside the cages. I am still experimenting with this technique, but it appears to have some good possibilities. I would encourage you to at least try out the presets and see what you thing. Serge has several other videos and presets available so check out those also. Hope everyone is enjoying this early Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE MOTION BLUR FOR ARTISTIC EFFECT

Image of a lizard hiding in some underbrushThis image was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. This little guy thought he had a pretty good hiding place, but I found him! I wanted to give him a very surreal surrounding and I think it happened using this week’s technique! Learned this from one of my favorite resource places, Creative Live, where a lovely lady named Kathleen Clemons presented a wonderful program called Creating Painterly Photographs. She was teaching how to both shoot and use Photoshop to give some very creative effects using mostly flower and leaf images. This got me thinking about how I could use some my favorite techniques and PS plug-ins to do get some interesting results also.

One of her PS suggestions was to try using the Motion Blur filter to get a different effect. That is exactly what was done in the image above. Very simple process to actually apply the filter. Below is the original image so you can see how the motion blur turns a rather busy image into a really nice painterly result.

  1. Duplicate your image.
  2. On this layer go to Filter -> Blur -> Motion Blur. Now adjust to your liking. If you want a horizontal look as shown above, set the Angle to 0; if a vertical blur is needed, set Angle to 90 degrees.
  3. Add a layer mask to the blur layer and paint out where the effect should be removed. Use a low opacity brush if just a little bit of effect needs to be removed.

This is such a simple technique I am not sure why I had not thought of it myself! Now any of your other filters and textures can be applied with a very different look being created by the motion blur. Thank you Kathleen for bringing this to my attention! (Click on the original image below to see a larger view in Flickr of the Layer Panel – it can be clicked on to enlarge also.) At end of blog under Image 1 is a detailed paragraph on all the different layer steps shown here.

Screenshot of original lizard image and layers panel
******
Painterly image of the Viera WetlandsThis image was taken at the Viera Wetlands also called  Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. A very similar image is posted here from a Tidbits Blog for the original version. Used the workflow above but this time Topaz Lens Effects’s Lens Motion filter was used to create the Vertical motion blur although PS could have just as easily been used. See Image 2 below for more details on how this image was finished.

******
Image of a Gardenia flowerThis beautiful gardenia was also taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Topaz Lens Effects Motion Blur filter’s Zoom was used to get this lovely effect. See Image 3 for more details. Kathleen definitely had some great tips for both photography, including how to use a Lens Baby, and Photoshop – if you like shooting flowers, she is a master at it! Hope everyone has a great weekend – I think I will go try shooting some more flower shots using Kathleen’s techniques this week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Photo Information

Image 1 Info: First the PS Motion Blur settings used were Angle 0 degrees and Distance 375. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was used created. Then to bring out the Lizard more, the free JixiPix Spectrel Art’s Dark Lines preset with the Detail set to 74 was applied – then in PS the layer was set to Linear Dodge blend mode. Just the lizard was painted back in a black layer mask (just press ALT while clicking on the layer mask icon at bottom of the Layer Panel). Since the lizard was too bright, the Density slider in Properties Panel for the layer mask was set to 66%. This plug-in is a great way to add some detail back into an object that is not defined well. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-in blog.) Next on another stamped layer, the Liquify Filter’s Bloat Tool was used to increase the Lizard’s eye just slightly. Now an Exposure Adjustment Layer could be used to pop his eye so it could be seen even better. (See my How to Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop.) Another stamped layer was created and Topaz Texture Effects was opened. Kathleen in her videos showed how to add a folder with your favorite textures in the Textures section of this plug-in. Just click the New box in the upper right corner of the panel in the opening screen. It turns into a Custom (preset) and the big (+ sign is clicked on. Only the Texture Panel was opened – by clicking on the little square next to the texture drop-down field, a new texture folder can be added. This is where loaded in a batch of many of the textures I created (but I could have added up my favorite 2 Lil’ Owls or French Kiss textures – see my Tidbits Blog for website links). Then all the sliders below can be applied to these textures very easily and areas can be masked out with a brush. Other panels can be added at the bottom or another Texture section can be added. This time I applied on of my first textures made in Corel Painter using Skip Allen’s Buttery Oils brushes. Then changes were made to the Opacity, Blend Mode, Saturation, Color and Color Strength in the plug-in. Lots of fun here! On a New Layer some clean up was done where edges looked bad. On another stamped layer, the now free Nik Viveza 2 was opened and 3 control points were added just to the Lizard to give his face and body yet more detail. Used a Curves Adjustment Layer to get rid of an overly bright section on a leaf in center of image. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.) On yet another stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Add Vignette Selective – Soft Olive Green preset was applied with these changes: Placement Adjustments – Focus Width 0.55 and Focus Height 0.45 – placed center on lizard (2989, 1404); Tonal Adjustments- Vignette Strength 0.20, Transition 0.40, Contrast 1.51, Brightness 53.02, and Opacity 25.25.  I really like the olive color in lots of  my images for a Vignette. Then two more Curves Adjustment Layers were created – following the Dodge and Burn technique above – to give the lizard’s head yet a little more pop and to soften down some of the vertical lines. Next Adobe Paper Texture Panel (this is free from Adobe) was opened, a Flypaper’s Raw Linen texture was applied using Linear Light blend mode at 25% layer opacity. This panel is a really cool way to see quickly what a texture will look like on your image. As you can see, I did not settle on a final color for this image until Topaz ReStyle was opened and saw the beautiful way some depth could be added to the image. Created yet another stamped layer and applied the Brandeis Blue preset with these changes: Color Style Hue Primary -0.70, Secondary -0.12, and Fourth -0.62; Lum Secondary -0.19 and Fourth 0.03; Basic Color Temperature 0.20 and Tint -0.34; and Detail Structure 0.34. A Selective Color Adjustment was opened to adjust color just a little more (Reds: Cyan +46%, Yellow -55%, and Black -28; and Yellows: Magenta -26 and Yellow -49). A clean up layer was added to soften some overly bright areas with a low opacity brush. Many of the layers had layer masks applied as you can see in the screenshot. It took a long time to do, but I like the final result now. This Lizard looks like he is really looking around!

Image 2:  Lens Effects allows placing the effect in the image with different types of blur (Panning,Rotation, Shake, Spiral and two Zooms). This image used a Rotation (same as the vertical or horizontal effect in PS) – the Motion Amount is the same thing as the Distance in PS Motion Filter. Alien Skins Snap Art‘s Impasto Detailed was used for the texture and the Dodge and Burn Curves Adjustments Layers were used to emphasize certain areas. Lisa Glanz Flying Geese bird png was used with a Pattern Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between the layers) using a sepia watercolor pattern to give the birds some light texture. Topaz ReStyle was used again (Hanging Orangutan – Set to Restyle Color blend mode, Hue Primary 0.02, Third 0.50 and Fifth 0.02; and Sat -0.42; Basic Saturation -0.16; Tone Black Level -0.05, Midtones 0.20 and White Level 0.05 ). The sky was white so I added the blue sky in Nik Viveza 2 using the Color Swatch – this turned out so natural looking. This is a good tip for Viveza which is very good with handling color problems.

Image 3: Wanted to point out that for this image, all the clean up was done first including using Topaz Detail 3 to sharpen the center of the flower and adding one of my textures to soften the background and painting back the flower (set to Overlay blend mode at 53% layer opacity). Two Curves Adjustment Layers were used to Dodge and Burn the background. Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken the corners of the image and add focus to the center. Then Topaz Lens Effects Zoom motion filter was applied. Last the text was added (it is a really old font from 1996 called Abigail and no recent link could be found – there is now a newer different font called Abigail that is not this one). On a New Layer above a simple flourish was added under the text. A Layer Style was created to give the nice effect on the text – learned this was an old Photoshop TV video from 2007 (Bevel & Emboss – Style Inner Bevel, Technique Smooth, Depth 276, Up, size 54, Soften 10, Shading Angle 120 degrees and Altitude 39 degrees (no Global Light on), Highlight Mode Screen at 93% opacity and Shadow Mode Screen at 28% opacity; Inner Glow Blend Mode Lighter Color, Opacity 74%, Noise 0%, Color set to Gradient going from a blue color (#0e2053) to white, Elements Technique Softer, Source Edge, Choke 0%, Size 70 px, Quality Range 50%; and Color Overlay set to Blend Mode Normal, Color Swatch a beige (#93815e) at 100% opacity). Change the overlay color to get different colors in your text.

Save

Save


WHAT’S NEW IN TOPAZ IMPRESSION 2?

Image of two Flamingoes at the West Palm Beach Zoo in Florida.
Totally psyched that Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression updated their plug-in to Version 2. Know you will see lots about this on the internet, but I am enjoying using it so much I wanted to share some of my initial responses to the program. I am surprised how much more they added to what I considered already a fabulous program! The image above used the a Watercolor II preset with some changes created in version 1 and still works great in the newer version. I call it SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset and can be downloaded in the Community Library. (For more info on post-processing on all images, check out the end of blog – this will give you a feel how many different filters and plug-ins can work together to get these effects.) If you own Topaz Impression version 1, this update is free!!! Best deal around – all of Topaz Labs’s plug-in updates are always free once you own it!

What’s New?

  • It is now much more similar to Topaz Texture Effects, which started out with this new interface that includes a Community where you can download presets when something different is needed. This has totally hooked me on Texture Effects, so the possibilities are endless as the Impression Community of presets are added.
  • According to Denise over at the Topaz Labs blog, there are now over 30 new loaded presets plus those that will be available in the Community library. And the layers can now be set to all the Blend Modes inside the plug-in.
  • New sliders and buttons have been added to the Stroke section – Number of strokes, Large Brush Volume to adjust large areas of color, and Rotation Variation to add randomness to the stroke effects; and in the Lighting section – new Highlight and Shadow sliders.
  • My favorite new feature is the Masking section where there are four different masks with different sliders to make your image totally unique. According to Topaz Labs:
    • The Spot Mask – Create a soft vignette effect, a subtle transition. It is somewhat like the Radial Filter in Lightroom or the Camera Raw filter.
    • The Color Mask – Uses color value differences to create a mask that is great for images clearly defined by color edges.
    • The Luminosity Mask – Uses luminosity values to determine edges for the mask and create it. It create detailed effects on light sources and glowing parts of image.
    • The Brush Mask – Can brush the effect in and out, and touch up edges around your subject. Use the Color Aware tool to create a clean mask along edges of your subject. This is a wonderful way to add detail to your Focal Point of your image.

It appears that only one Mask can be used for each Impression layer. I particularly like this Brush tab to remove the painterly effect and enhance the detail in your focal point. The large Mask window is very useful to see what is being affected in your image. Wonderful effects can be achieved in this section!

Image of Cityplace restaurant in West Palm BeachThis image of a restaurant located in the Cityplace shopping area of West Palm Beach used the Modern Urban Street Art III preset to get this very modern sketchy feel. (Changed the texture to Grass Patchy set to Texture Strength 0.89, Texture Size 1.00, and Texture Color of Red 255/Green 238/Blue 174).) In this case once the preset was applied, the layer was duplicated. The first layer was set to Color Dodge at 100% opacity and the second layer was set to Divide at 77% layer opacity. Layer masks were added and a few areas that did not look correct were lightly painted out with a soft black brush. This combination worked nicely on this image to give a real Florida look to the image. See Image 2 below for more post-processing info.

Image of a floral topiary of a birdAnother example of using this updated plug-in. This was a bird topiary of flowers at Cityplace in West Palm Beach – this was actually a fountain where suds had been introduced to the water. For some reason it felt right to add a slight painterly effect to give a wintry cool feeling. This image used one of Impression’s new presets, one which I really like, called Chalk Smudge. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool (white droplet) to remove areas looking too sharp (set to lower Strength). Opacity slider for all settings was set to 0.74 and to Normal blend mode. See Image 3 for more info.

As you can see, this update contains a lot of new things – some I have not fully explored. All-in-all, very nice update! For my version 1 review, check out my Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression blog. Once again the Topaz Labs group has done a wonderful job on their plug-in! I am sure I will be playing with this plug-in for days to come as the original was one of my favorite – now it is even better! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

POST PROCESSING INFO ON ABOVE IMAGES:

Image 1:  Duplicated the layer and entered the Topaz Impression 2 plug-in. Went to the Community tab and downloaded my SJ WC Like Effect-modified preset to apply this result. In a layer mask back in Photoshop, lightly painted back just the two foreground flamingos to bring back a little bit of detail to the birds. Next used a blender brush on a New Layer to  clean up a little bit of the messiness caused by the painterly preset from Impression 2. Used another New Layer to add a little line delineation on the trees. Created a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and took the layer into Topaz Black & White Effects. (Used my SJ Old Fountain preset.  Settings included: Conversion Basic Exposure: Contrast 0.02, Brightness 0, Boost Blacks 0.06, Boost Whites 0.00; Adaptive Exposure: 0.30, Regions 8, Protect Highlights -0.05, Protect Shadows 0.00, Detail 2.00, Detail Boost 1.00, and check Process Details Independently; Finishing Touches: Silver and Paper Tone: Tonal Strength 0.20, Balance 0, Silver Hue 32.00, Silver Tone Strength 0.50, Paper Hue 32.00, and Paper Tone Strength 0.15; Quad Tone: Color 1 Region 0.00 set to R0/G0/B0, Color 2 Region 142.5 set to R75/G78/B96, Color 3 Region 228.0 set to R222/G220/B172; and Color Region 4 255.0 set to R255/G255/B255; Border – Type Solid Black Size 0.46; Edge Exposure Left and Right Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.17, and Edge Transition 0.20; and Top and Bottom Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.40, and Edge Transition 0.20; Vignette: Strength -0.47, Size 0.85, Transition 0.61, and Curvature 0.54; and Transparency to 1.00; and in Local Adjustment used the Burn tool to darken the background, Color on the Bird, and Dodge on the trees to enhance where the lines of the trees were.) On a new stamped layer opened Topaz Texture Effects (Used SJ Crisp Morning Run Modified preset – Texture: changed to bright turquoise texture (halfway down on right column) with Opacity set to 0.29; Vignette – Strength 0.60 and Size 0.53 with Color centered on between bird and trees; in Mask painted back the bird and a little bit of light in trees and background behind bird – used Strength of 39 and Hardness of 20 using black.) In a layer mask and the Gradient Tool selected, a black to white gradient was created from top to bottom to darken the upper edges a little. Image 1 is the final result.

Image 2:  This image was difficult to clean up – first the Adaptive Wide Angle filter was used in PS to straighten the walls somewhat. Then the open areas that resulted were cleaned up with the the clone brush. Next the Topaz Impression 2’s Modern Urban Street Art III preset was applied and the plug-in was exited. The layer was duplicated and said before, the first layer was set to Color Dodge blend mode at 100% layer opacity and the second layer was set to Divide blend mode at 77% layer mode. A little clean up was done on another layer and finally on a stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 (now free) was used to bring in the focal area a little – located where the foreground grouping of chairs on the sidewalk. On another stamped layer a Camera Raw filter Radial filter was used to lighten the left side of the image and darkening the right side a little. A little painting was done on a New Layer and the last step was to use a Curves Adjustment Layer to average out the tone.

Image 3: So what was done in this image to get a really surreal effect? First Topaz Detail 3 was used to sharpen up the flowers only (used black mask and painted back only flowers). One of my Corel Painter textures called SJ Beach Scene was used to add a brownish foreground and a light bluish sky. Another one of my textures called SJ Forest and Plains was placed on top to add the wave or outer space feel in the upper left corner especially – it was set to Luminosity blend mode at 79% layer opacity. The background was copied and placed on top – the top part of image was selected and placed in a layer mask so the people and cars in the area were removed. Then several layers were about used to clone out and clean up image areas. On another New Layer, a basic small snow brush was used to add the wintry feel to the sky. A stamped layer was created and Topaz Lens Effects was opened where the Graduated Neutral Filter was selected and set to the Graduated bottom half 2 stops preset. On another stamped layer, Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was used to – Flypapers Fly Book & Skull Preset was applied (this contained the Glamour Glow, Reflector Efex, Film Efex: Vintage, and Cross Processing filters). Another stamped layer was created and finally Topaz Impression 2 was opened where the Chalk Smudge Preset was used. In the Masking section, painted out parts of bird so they showed up sharper – then tried to add back a little bit of effect by using the Erase tool to remove areas looking too sharp (set Eraser brush to lower Strength). Opacity slider was set to 0.74 to Normal blend mode. The birds floral eye was worked on next. The Liquify Tool was used to increase the size of the eye and an Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to make it stand out a little. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog.) A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was added to blend image a little better. (See my How To Use a Red Channel To Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) On a stamped layer Lucis Pro was used to further blend the sky in a little nicer. (Settings used are Enhance Red Channel 175/Green Channel 195/Blue Channel 149 and Assign Original  Image Color set to (0% Processed /100% Original.) (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (Now Affordable!) blog.) On a New Layer Grut’s FX Cloud Gumbo 01a brush was used to fill in the water to look like built up snow. (These brushes are terrific and very handy for image clean up!) A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added on top and set to a light beige – it was set to Color Blend Mode at 57%. It made the statue look a little better and the red flowers less saturated – painted out the sky so it was not affected. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to reduce the overall tone just a little. This was a huge workflow, but you can see how the Impression plug-in works very nicely with many of the filters from both Topaz and other vendors.


DIGITAL LADY SYD REVIEWS LUCIS PRO 6.0.9 (NOW AFFORDABLE!)

Image of a painted Tri-Color Ginger PlantUpdated Blog as of 8/10/18 due to bad links and inaccurate info. This week is yet another Photoshop plug-in that I am really excited about using. If you have followed plug-ins for years, you know that Lucis has had some of the best effects ever made. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 has been reduced in price and that makes it very manageable. I had to get it! Now what to do with it? The Tri-Colored Ginger plant taken in West Palm Beach used this filter at the end of the workflow. Marilyn Sholen, a Corel Painter Elite, had suggested using it either at the beginning or the end of your workflow.

Below is the original (left image).  For middle image, the plant was selected using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask. Topaz Impression’s Cezanne II preset was applied to just the selection, one of my Corel Painter textures was placed underneath, Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the center focal point, and a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to just adjust the tone of the image. Topaz ReStyle was used to add more of a pink color palette (see right image) and a Darken Detail layer was created to emphasize some of the lines in the plant. For final step to get image above,  Lucis 6.0.9 was applied and the colors really popped nicely.  (Settings used – Enhance Detail:  Red Channel 199/Green Channel 155/Blue Channel 203.  Mix with Original Image 39% Processed and 61% Original.) For more info on how to perform other steps, see Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below.
Different stage of painting this image.

*******
Here is another example of the result that can be achieved with this very good plug-in. This image is of the Drawing Room in the 55-room mansion of Henry Flagler that is called the Flagler Museum or Whitehall. Wonderful place to visit!

Image of the Drawing Room at the Flagler Museum (Whitehall)In this case Lucis Pro was applied close to the beginning of the post-processing in Photoshop, right after removing a little noise and the ropes at entrance to the room. (See image below for original as brought in from Lightroom.) Then Lucis Pro was applied using these settings: Enhance Detail Channels – Red 51737/Green 44631/Blue 35165 – large numbers due to the fact the image was in 16-bit mode; Mix with Original Image – 43 % processed and 57% original. This really brought out the detail in all the small items in the room without making the image look crunchy. I found this pretty incredible! The effect can be as subtle as you want. The results look pretty subtle here, but at 100% magnification, the difference can be seen very clearly.

Original image of the Drawing Room at Whitehall

By clicking on the support tab at the Lucis website, there is a nice PDF Users Manual that can be downloaded with the plug-in which takes you through all the different sliders and what they mean. For me, to get the best results:

  1. Click the Split Channels box on.
  2. Uncheck the Display Composite box.
  3. Adjust the Enhance Detail sliders for each channel to get a good black and white result in each channel. The Smooth Detail sliders are kept at 1.
  4. Turn on the Display Composite Image checkbox. Sometimes the colors will look really bad at this point. If there is a color shift that you do not like, move the Assign Original Image Color slider to 0% Processed/100% Original.
  5. Go back and adjust the Enhance Detail sliders in each channel to make the colors and amount of details just right.
  6. If the results are a little over-cooked, adjust the Mix With Original Image slider which will pull back in some of the the original image.

There are several other sliders and fields in the interface that I did not use but the manual does a good job of explaining all their functions.

*******

Image of a white gardeniaThis beautiful white gardenia was taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, and was my first attempt at using this plug-in. I did not want too much color in the flower, only a touch. (Settings used: Enhance Detail:  Red Channel 129/Green Channel 125/Blue Channel 95.  Mix with Original Image 70% Processed and 30% Original.) It is not that important that you understand all the mechanics going on under-the-hood, just experiment with the sliders and the image will eventually look really good. This seems to be a handy plug-in to use, especially when that little bit of extra detail is needed. I have even used this plug-in after applying my favorite Topaz Detail 3 – they work fine together. Here is another technique used to get this Lucis effect shown in my The Sculpture Called Reaching Tidbits Blog.

I just noticed I am not sure there is an option to try out this plug-in first which is too bad. I have always loved the Lucis filters but was unable to afford them. I am so happy they have reduced their price on this one as it is so much fun to use and does a very good job with both detail and adding a little color into an image. Hope you are enjoying the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReMask 5
Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
Applying a Filter to Objects on a Layer
How To Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast In an Image
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle
The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!


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 CURVES ADJUSTMENT LAYERS TO DODGE AND BURN AN IMAGE

B&W image of several alligators at the St. Augustine Alligator FarmWow – I feel like I am jumping on the bandwagon, but I had to see for myself if the popular technique using Curves Adjustment Layers for dodging and burning is really that useful. The basic concept is to adjust at least two Curves Adjustment Layers, one to over-brighten the image and one for darkening the image. By doing localized painting on the layer masks filled to black, the effect can be painted in (dodged or burned depending on which Curves mask you are using) to add contrast exactly where needed.

These guys above were photographed at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm recently. They are hanging out waiting for an egg or baby bird to fall out of a nest from roosting birds above. It was a little creepy actually seeing them all hanging around! Anyway, this image is an example of using this dodging and burning technique, and the various workflow steps are shown. Below is an example of what the image looked like as a RAW file and after Lightroom changes were applied.

Image of RAW file and Lightroom processed fileIn Lightroom the image was turned into a black and white (set all the HSL Saturation sliders to 0, then adjusted Luminance sliders to get a nice B&W effect – tip from Jack Davis – one of my favorite Photoshop gurus) since the color did not add much interest to the image. Also a rather large crop was done to bring the focus to this specific grouping of alligators. In Photoshop Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was opened and my Soft Leaves preset was applied. (Settings includedDetail: Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium Details -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.42; and Tone: Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.58, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) Below is how the image looked after the filter was applied.
Alligator Image after Topaz Detail 3 preset Soft Leaves appliedThere is now a bit of a soft magical effect – really smoothed out the water especially. A white Layer Mask was added and just detail on the alligator faces were painted back. There still is not much contrast between the background and animal bodies. So the next steps were:

  • Added two Curves Adjustment Layers – named one Darken and one Lighten.
  • Set both layers to Luminosity blend mode (more on this later).
  • To adjust the curves, clicked on icon in upper left of panel (hand with two arrows icon or TAT, Targeted Adjustment Tool). By dragging in image the area to correct, the darkening effect could be adjusted. The whole image darkened down, but that is okay as long as the area is set to the correct contrast. You can always go back and adjust the curve effect later.
  • Next this Darken layer was turned off by clicking on the eyeball in the Layer Panel so it disappears.
  • The top Lighten Curves layer was highlighted. By using the TAT to drag in parts of the alligators, the correct dodging effect could also be obtained, but the image is now over-bright.
  • Turned the Darken Curves Adjustment Layer back on.
  • Both of the adjustment layer masks were filled with black by clicking CTRL+I inside the mask itself in the Layers Panel.
  • A soft round brush set to 30% brush opacity. By painting in different areas in both curves layer masks, areas could be revealed so the alligators were contrasted and lighted just right. Since the brush is set to 30% opacity, the contrast can be gradually built-up.

See the Lighten Curves Adjustment Layer below and the two Curves Adjustment Layers with mask painted in below.

Screenshot of Lighten Curves Adjustment LayerThis turned out be quite an effective way of getting the correct brightness on the actual bodies of the alligators, and to create a nice vignette around the background of the image. The areas around the bodies of the alligators were slightly darkened just to add a little separation to make them stand out a little better. And remember that you can always go back in and change the curve(s) if the effect is too much or not enough. Also the layer mask can be adjusted in the Properties Bar with the Density and Feather sliders if more softening is needed. Last steps included a clean up layer to get rid of a few miscellaneous distracting objects, and a little selective sharpening on the faces. Now when I look at the final image I believe I am seeing in the faces and bodies of the alligators a bit of the fear they produce when you actually see one. I find them to be rather ferocious and extremely cunning animals.
Image of little white wildflowersThese little white wildflowers were growing on my back porch recently. There is no  texture in this image, just a screening effect that was behind them with green bushes growing behind the screen. Very little was done to this image. The same Topaz Detail 3’s Soft Leaves preset was used as in first image. Next the two Curves Adjustment Layers were added – the flowers were brightened using the Lighten curve and the background darkened some around the flowers using the Darken curve. On top a New Layer was created to add in more texture to match the screen effect – a basic cross-hatching brush was used to break up some of the flat color in the background. This flat effect seems to be a pitfall if too much darkening and lightening is added in large areas with the curves – everything can start to get a little bit murky in color if not controlled carefully. That is why a layer with some detail was added over it above and set to Screen blend mode at 39% layer opacity. It now appears more interesting and less flat to me.

Bottom Line

There are many dodging and burning techniques. If you are comfortable with one of them, it is fine to keep using that technique. I believe the two curves technique is so popular because it is very easy and quick to do. I found it useful for a fairly large area(s) to adjust. For example, in the alligator image above, the alligators and the background were very similar in tone (and color in the color version) so a fairly large area needed to be slightly darkened behind the alligators to make them stand out. Similar issue for the flowers – the screen was very busy so by darkening the background and lightening the flowers, they stand out much better. If you need just a small area(s) darkened or lightened, use the Dodge and/or Burn Tools – they are pretty good in recent versions of Photoshop. (See Scott Kelby’s blog Using the Dodge and Burn Tools for more info on this.) My favorite for detail areas is one I blogged on a long time ago called The Best Dodging and Burning Technique!

Ben Wilmore, another Photoshop guru, teaches the ins-and-outs of Curves Adjustments better than anyone else. After trying out the two curves technique, I realized that I had used it several times before without realizing I was actually dodging and burning in the image! Ben said that using a Darken Curves Adjustment Layer can darken a sky, for example. Therefore, by setting the Curves Adjustment Layer to Luminosity blend mode, the colors will not shift but stay set at their original color. So if you are worried about a color shift resulting, just use Luminosity blend mode and there will be no change in color.

Some good recent resources on this technique are from Blake Rudis’s Everyday HDR video called Curves Layer Dodge and Burn in Photoshop. Also Julia Kuzmenko McKim uses it to retouch faces in a very natural way. Check out her wonderful, very detailed, 3-part article called The Ultimate Guide to the Dodge and Burn Technique: Curves Set Up and More.

I would suggest you give the Curves Adjustment Layer Dodging and Burning technique a try since it is very easy to do. I think you will find it to be a very handy and quick technique to have at your disposal! Chat at ya later!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR “NOT-SO-GREAT” IMAGES

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


HOW TO PAINT AN IMAGE USING REGULAR AND MIXER BRUSHES IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of several American Coots swimming at the Viera WetlandsThis week I thought I would discuss how to turn an ordinary picture into something with a bit of “creative flair” using a couple basic brushes in Photoshop. This is not a new topic for me but I keep coming back to it since this is how I spend a lot of my time working creatively. I had such a fun time going with the Photography Club of Flagler County to the beautiful Ritch Grissom Memorial Viera Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. I really love photographing and painting nature and these little American Coots were one of my favorite subjects from the day! Probably not what everyone was looking at, but I thought they were very entertaining! Hum! I knew most of my images would be similar to the many taken by the group and that is one reason why I wanted to do something a little different with them! So the image above was changed drastically by just adding a nice texture and painting in Photoshop. And it will look different and hopefully everyone gets a feeling of what I was experiencing when watching these entertaining creatures.

So exactly how did I do this? There are not really that many steps – I have included settings in case you are interested in getting some similar results.

1. For me the first step is always Lightroom – used Seim’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Power Workflow 4 Sunday Cross preset. Usually I just go through and look at the different presets in the Navigator until one is found that suits the image. Also an Adjustment Brush set to Clarity 73 and Sharpness 65 was used to sharpen anything in the image that may need it. Just be sure that before opening the photo in Photoshop, the Lens Correction section has checked the Enable Profile Corrections and Remove Chromatic Aberration boxes. Can save problems down the road. Also, now is a good time to Crop your image as it is easier and faster than in Photoshop. This photo was cut almost in half and only the foreground grass and birds were left.

This Photoshop file was divided into two Groups – one containing the Filters and Textures used and the other has the Painting layers.

2. Since Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 is my second most used filter that I own and used almost exclusively at the beginning of my Photoshop workflow. It is used to overall sharpen my images. Sometimes Topaz Clarity is applied instead for the same reason with a slightly different result. Detail has always served me well and this image shows why. There are some very painterly effects that Detail can give by just creating and using a preset. On a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), one of my presets was applied – it basically removed all the sharp edges, and but left some very pretty colors that is used as an Underpainting layer. (The settings are: Detail Overall – all the details are set to -1.00 and all the Boosts are left at 0; no Tone changes; and Color Temperature -0.27, Tint 0.34, Saturation -0.65, and Saturation Boost 0.21.) This gives a really flat look to the image. A layer mask was added and with a small black brush, just the eyes were painted back and kept sharp. The preset layer and mask were duplicated and set to Linear Dodge (Add) and set to set to 77% layer opacity to lighten up the image overall.

3. Now the texture was added and usually a bit of trial and error is done to figure out which to select. In this case at least 5 textures from different people were tried before the effect that looked best was found. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Mosaic Set Destine was applied and set to Darken blend mode at 69% layer opacity. This texture was chosen because the colors gave the image almost that “golden hour” feel and it seemed perfect for this nature image. A layer mask was added and the ducks were painted black so that the colors in the texture did not interfere with the white feathers in the birds.

4. A stamped layer was created on top next (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and converted into a Smart Object. Nik Viveza 2 (my most used and favorite Photoshop filter) and a control point was placed only on the ducks (Brightness 31%, Contrast 48%, and Structure 100%). On the same layer Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was applied and Fly Paper’s Nik Color Efex Preset Thialand Surfing was selected for this image. (The filters in this preset were Detail Extractor, Cross Processing Darken/Light Center, Glamour Glow and Reflector Efex.) These are inexpensive presets that have really helped me speed up my workflow in this program. This layer was then set to 76% layer opacity so as not to overdo the results.

5. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to bring back a little contrast since textures can often removed it.

Now all but the bottom Background layer were put into a Group (CTRL+G in Layers Panel) and named Filters and Texture. The image actually looked pretty good at this point, but it seemed to be begging for some paint strokes.

6. Now the fun started. What makes this image so painterly is what brushes are used to get the effects. You cannot do this with just a soft round brush – you need to use the Brush Panel sections to add texture and jitter to your strokes. So lets create some useful brushes. For a regular painting brush, my Pastel Brush is used most often for regular painting in Photoshop.  (I used Pastel 11 in SDW Pastel Brushes-a free brush that comes in as a huge 2130 px brush! Used these settings:Brush Tip Shape section Size 35 pixels, Angle 137 degrees, and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics section Angle Jitter 8% and Control Pen Pressure; Texture section using the Rough texture or any texture I feel like, Scale 87%, Brightness -45, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50% and Depth Jitter 1%; and Smoothing – if these settings are not working for you, just move the sliders around, especially in the texture section, until you see something you like in the bottom preview.) You really need to find a brush that works for you and use it. I also like my really basic Chalk 60 Brush that just has an Angle Jitter of 19% – you can always add in other items like texture or dual brush for different paint strokes. Just save as a variant.

A good blending Mixer Brush is also needed to blend in some of the more obvious edges of the regular brush to get that soft painterly look. A lot of Photoshop’s canned Mixer brushes are really good. I find the Flat Fan Single Bristle Wet Edge Brush in the Wet Media Brushes from Photoshop to be really good for both a Mixer and regular painting brush. Any brush can be a Mixer brush by turning on the Mixer Brush in the Tools Panel and then selecting the brush in the Brush Picker. The regular brush created above makes a really nice smooth mixing effect as a Mixer. Just remember if you do not want to add any color to the image but just want to mix or blend colors or hard edges, be sure to untoggle the “Load the Brush After Every Stroke” in the Options Bar – otherwise you will get some amount of color being added. In the large drop down in the Options Bar there are a lot of choices to try out for painting. Just experiment. You can get very different effects by just adjusting the Shape of the brush by dragging on the the little circular graphic on the right under the Size slider. Just watch the preview for the results of the changes. I like a rougher edge to give more of a brush-like effect and used the same brush as both a regular brush and Mixer brush for a lot of this painting.

7. Ten layers were added for painting and clean up. I like to switch between the regular brush strokes on one layer and Mixer brush strokes on another since the effects are so different. I have the brushes set up so that B is the regular brush and A is the Mixer brush (this was changed by going to Edit -> Keyboard Shortcuts and selecting Tools) for fast switching. Two different brushes can be connected with each type of brush. With the regular brush, you can sample the color by ALT+clicking in the image and then just start dabbing. With the Mixer brush, you can either click anywhere in the image to get what color is under the brush tip, or you must click on the color swatch to sample in the image and change just one color. Not sure why they are different. If you make a lot of changes to the brush, save it as a Brush Preset by clicking on the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brush Panel or Brush Picker –  Photoshop always sets the brush back to the default settings when you click on it brush again.

For this layer, I really wanted the colors to show up in the foreground grass and reeds so first the regular brush was used at a very small size to add in a little rough grainy edge feel and color, then on the layer above, it was turned into a blending mixer and smoothed out some. Did the same thing on the birds and with the reflections. You can paint as much as you want and can adjust the blend modes and layer opacities to adjust the look. I sampled lots of the colors from the texture to get its colors in the foreground.

8. All the Painting layers were put in a group just to keep it all organized. A final Curves Adjustment Layer was added to get the contrast exactly right.

Painted Image of pink and white flowers in a vaseAbove is another image created with some inexpensive flowers and vase from the Dollar Store and shot with a white cardboard background. This is a good way to practice your flower shooting and post-processing. It was then painted in Photoshop using the basic steps from above. French Kiss’ Solstice Elan2 (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) was used as the texture. A 2B Pencil brush was actually used as a Mixer to get fine detail in this image.

I am constantly surprised how nice an image can look with just a few brush strokes added to give it your own look. It is not that hard – just find a couple brushes you like and adjust them to fit what you are doing. It is lots of fun and you do not have to be a major artist to get a beautiful representation of your image. Hope you get a chance to try out the brushes – I know you will love the results once you try it!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Just Painting in Photoshop and Having Fun!
6 Tips for Painting in Photoshop
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
Photoshop Brush Fun!


MORE PAINTERLY EFFECTS

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.


HOW TO COLORIZE AN OLD PHOTO

Colorized Image of my Great-Grandmother Alice Ann GreenNot sure I have blogged on photo restoration much. This week I am going to show you how to colorize old images to give them a nice tinted effect. This image is of my Grandmother Francis Carlton Smith and says it was from 1913.
Original photo of Alice Ann Green from 1913I learned how to do this from photo restoration specialist Suzette Allen when she appeared on Creative Live a while back. This is how she uses Solid Color Adjustments Layers to add color to her images. I might add the skin effect is also from her video but that is another blog as it is a bit tricky. In this case various Solid Color Adjustment Layers were used for her skin, then hair, and finally the dress and background. In all 7 were used. I would suggest you first download Suzette Allen Color Guide Faces photo – a free download from her website – before beginning. Frequently I open up this image in Photoshop to use for sampling skin and lip color. Nik’s Color Efex Pro was used at the end and  Flypaper Textures Nik Color Efex Presets White Buttons was applied. The Frame was added in the Smart Photo Editor plug-in using the white border with gray stroke classic border. The Solid Color Adjustment Layer technique is the same as in the workflow below.

Image of kids on a jungle jim in 1941The cute kid image was downloaded from one of my very favorite websites, Shorpy Historical Photo Archive (this links directly to the original black and white image and there are some pretty interesting comments on the playground itself), and was taken in New York City on July 14, 1941. A few months ago I did a little vintage blog on how to make a nice old photo really look vintage. (See How to Add More Vintage Feel to An Old Photo blog.) (Also check out my Related Blogs below for how Calvin Hollywood uses Solid Color Adjustment Layers.) So here is the basic workflow on how to colorize your old images.

1. First I sharpened the image overall using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3’s Overall Detail Light preset, but you can sharpen anyway you want. Do any major adjustments to the photo before starting the colorization process.

2. Select a Solid Color Adjustment Layer. Fill the layer mask with black by clicking on it and CTRL+I to fill with black.

3. Change the blend mode of the adjustment layer to Color and the layer opacity to 32%. Name it so you can tell quickly where it was used.

4. Suzette suggests starting to colorize with the skin first. Open up her Color Guide Faces in Photoshop. In the image click on the foreground swatch and then click in the guide and click on a skin tone to use in your image.

5. Go back to your image and double click on the Solid Color Adjust Layer color box in the Layer Panel which brings up the Color Picker. By dragging your cursor outside the Color Picker, it turns into an eyedropper to sample the Foreground Color in the swatch at bottom of the Toolbar. Your adjustment layer will now have the the skin tone color from the guide.

6. Click on the black mask and paint with a brush with a white (brush changes from the colors to black and white when painting in a layer mask). Set your brush to white and 12-30% brush opacity in the Property Bar and add a little hardness to the brush so you can get some fairly close edges. You will now see the color being painted on the skin area.

7. When finished with that color, duplicate the layer by CTRL+J. Now rename this layer to indicate the new area you will be working on and fill the layer mask with black again (CTRL+BACKSPACE in the mask). Go back to the Guide and choose another skin tone for the Foreground Color – back in your photo sample the Foreground color and start painting in white on the mask again.

It really is an easy process once you do it a couple of times. I created separate Solid Color Adjustments layers for each skin area, along with hair, dress color, background colors, etc. To keep everything straight, Groups were created (highlight the layers and press CTRL+G to group them) with those titles since there were 10 or 11 Solid Color Adjustments Layers in each group.

The nice thing about this technique is that it is easy to go back and change a color if it does not look right. By double clicking on the color swatch of the adjustment layer, you open the color picker where several different colors can be selected – a live update will show in your image as you hover over each color. This is a really easy way to add believable color to an image.

The rest of the image effect was created using a New Layer and doing some skin smoothing by sampling nearby colors to smooth some of the splotchiness, and by applying Nik Color Efex Pro’s Glamour Glow, Film Efex-Faded, Image Borders, and Brilliance/Warmth to get the final result. This image actually took quite a while to complete, but the localized colors in both the clothes and skin tones did create a nice result from a rather dull and cluttered black and white image.

Not all images work well for this type of technique – you just have to experiment to see how it looks. It can be a bit tedious to really get a good result, but overall it can really make your vintage images pop. It is fun to try and figure out what your long lost relative may have looked liked in color. Give this technique a try – works great on any type of image. I find I am really enjoying trying this out on my old photos. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Smart Photo Editor Photoshop Plug-In

Save

Save


GETTING BACK TO PLAYING IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of a small girl in her Native American CostumeSince I had a pretty busy week with company, just thought I would post a couple images. This one is of a beautiful little girl who was dancing with the adults at the Native American Festival earlier this year. Totally enjoyed the event once again! For this image a selection was used to remove her from the background (used Photoshop’s Color Range and then cleaned up the resulting layer mask) and next ReFine Edge to fine-tune the feathers (set Radius to 7.2 and Shift slider to -3). Painted Textures Spring Rain texture was placed over the image and a layer mask was added to paint in the little girl. Photoshop’s Flat Fan Thick Stiff Wet Edge brush (located in Photoshop’s Wet Media Brushes group) was used to do this and to paint on several additional New Layers. A smaller sized Mixer brush was used to smooth the facial skin hard edges. The last step used Nik’s Viveza 2 with a control point placed on the little girl to make her pop out a bit from the background and 6 other control points to adjust the coloring to look just right.

I know that Corel Painter does a fabulous job on painting images, and I am working hard on learning it, but sometimes I like a more realistic painted feel by using Photoshop and its Regular and Mixer brushes on different layers as shown above.

Image of water lilies taken at Epcot, Disney World-OrlandoThis is an image taken from the Living With the Land ride at Epcot, Disney World Orlando. Just enjoyed playing with different filters to see if I could make it into something I liked. No painting here. In Lightroom used Seim’s (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) PW4 Magic Portrait preset and actually went into the Lens Correction Manual and changed the Distortion, Vertical Horizontal and Aspect sliders which resulted in some extra white space on the left side and bottom of the image. Next opened up the image in Photoshop CC 2014 with the new advanced Content-Aware Fill command which did a wonderful job of adding into this area of the image. I do not usually use this version since the regular CC still lets me use my flash panels. Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3 was opened and my SJ Text preset was added. (These are the settings: Overall Detail – Small Details0.08, Medium Details 0.20, and Large Details 0.08; Tone Exposure -0.60, Contrast 0.25, Highlights 0.10, Shadows 0.05, Whites 0.10, and Blacks 0.05; and Color Temperature 0.10, Tint 0.03, and Saturation 0.10.) On a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer, the Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were used: Midnight using a Neutral Color Set at 93% opacity, Darken/Lighten Center at 59% opacity, and Detail Extraction with Detail Extraction slider at 65% and control points set on each of the flowers only. I liked what I was seeing at this point but still decided to do some more changes. Several clean up layers were added and then Nik Viveza 2 was opened up to add some extra contrast to the flowers. Next my free Cat Painting Canvas was set to Overlay blend mode on a layer above. And just because I could, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Dark Goldenrod preset was added with no changes. The tone in the image turned out to be just right. A text layer was added using a font called Ruthie and set to Bevel and Emboss and Outer Glow layer style. It was 27% layer opacity.

It was fun to just play in Photoshop for a change. It seems that there is so much to learn that it is easy to forget to create and have fun. Until next week, have a good one creating!……Digital Lady Syd


SOME EPCOT FUN! (AND MORE IMPRESSION)

Image of Huey, Dewey or Louie Painting in Store Front at EpcotSince I recently went to Epcot and got a few images, I have been having fun trying out Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression on them. I am finding that when an image is maybe not in perfect condition, but you want to use it as a nice remembrance of your experiences, this plug-in does an amazing job of helping control the bad and bringing out the good. The level of realism you want added back into your image can be controlled by just applying a layer mask in Photoshop and erasing out any overdone areas. The artistic element can also be controlled to just the extent that you want by using either two different presets stacked on different layers in Photoshop, or just using one preset and adjusting the layer opacity or blend mode, or adding adjustment layers on top. This really has a similar feel as if you are adding texture to an image. I have to admit this is one of my very favorite images I have taken at Disney World. This was a window display and there was so much glare everywhere. In Lightroom Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Super HDR X and RadiSpot presets were applied. A lot of clean up was done right in Lightroom using the Adjustment Brush – 5 areas were selected and adjusted. In Photoshop the background layer was duplicated three times and each of the new layers were taken into Topaz Impression. First my Charcoal I Slight Colors preset was applied (here are my preset settings that started with Topaz’s Charcoal I: Stroke: Brush Type 08, Brush Size 0.58, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.38, Stroke Width -0.18, Stroke Length 0.23, Spill 0.24, Smudge 0, Coverage 1.00; Color: Red Overall Saturation -1.00, Red Saturation 0.50, Orange 0.31, Yellow Hue -0.03 and Saturation 0.54, Green Saturation -0.32, and Blue 0.64; Lighting Contrast 0.19, and Light Direction x0.51, y0.51; and Texture Strength 0.24, Size 0, Paper I texture, and white background color) and set to Multiply Mode in Impression; on next layer same preset without changing the mode to Multiply; and on the top layer the Da Vinci Sketch I preset was applied with no changes. By adding layer masks to both of the top two filter layers, the areas with color could be painted back just the way I wanted it to appear. I discovered  it does seem to make a difference whether you change the blend mode in the plug-in or on the layer in Photoshop – so try both ways if you do not like the way it looks. Then two clean up layers were created to paint over parts of the image. Another cleanup layer involved using the Sharpen Tool on the face to draw the eye to his face eye. The last step was adding 50 free photo art borders 18. (By going to Select -> Select Color and choosing Highlights, you can select the whites – then add a layer mask and apply it. Now by adding a Color Fill layer clipped to the border, you can change the color from white easily.) Image of the Glass Blower at Epcot in the Mexican Pavillion Well this image turned out really different – this is a guy that was doing a glass blowing demo at the Mexican Pavilion at Epcot-Disney World Orlando. This was a very dark image to begin with and after adding Seim’s PW4 Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset and doing the Shake Reduction filter in Photoshop, it was opened up in Topaz Impression. Used my SJ Colored Pencil preset and got this kind of crazy color thing going, but I really like it. (Started with Colored Pencil II preset and ended up with these settings:  Stroke Brush Type 07, Brush Size 0.90, Paint Volume 0.77, Paint Opacity 0.20, Stroke Width -0.82, Stroke Length -0.25, Spill 0.26, Smudge 0.16, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Sat 0.37, and Red Hue 0.78, Red Sat 0.32 and Red Lightness 0.28; Lighting Brightness 0.21 and Contrast -0.40, Light Direction X: 1.00 and y: 1.00; and Texture Strength 0.33, Size 0, Paper I texture and white background.) (See my New Impression of Octopus and Seahorse Tidbits Blog for another example of this preset.) It has a poster feel to it. Then the clean up layers were added. One for fixing the blown out yellow flame – added just a touch of color to it. And the second to remove some white dots that appear around the image. There are still a few that are apparent, but they don’t stand out as major artifacts. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added on top and that was it. Image of Venice Display at Epcot World ShowcaseAnother image from Epcot of a store display on the World Showcase. I just liked the feel of the Venice exhibit so I thought it was worth a shot. In this case. the image had to be tilted manually using the Vertical Slider in the Lens Correction Panel in Lightroom. Also applied a very nice free preset from Nicolesy called Autumn Fresh and some Radial Filters on the overly bright spots in the image before going into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Topaz Detail 3 was opened and a preset I created a long time ago called Text was applied. (These are the settings: Overall Detail – Small Details0.08, Medium Details 0.20, and Large Details 0.08; Tone Exposure -0.60, Contrast 0.25, Highlights 0.10, Shadows 0.05, Whites 0.10, and Blacks 0.05; and Color Temperature 0.10, Tint 0.03, and Saturation 0.10.) I usually just try different presets in this plug-in until I get the sharpness I like. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Impression was applied using my Charcoal I Slight Colors preset (same as in first image) but changed some of the settings. (Here are the settings for this image: Stroke Brush Type 08, Brush Size 0.58, Paint Volume 0.64, Paint Opacity 0.23, Stroke Width -0.18, Stroke Length 0.23, Spill 0.24, Smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Saturation -1.00, Red Sat 0.50, Orange Sat 0.31, Yellow Hue -0.03 and Sat 0.54, Green Sat -0.32, Blue Sat 0.64, Purple Sat 0.59, and Magenta Sat 0.94; Lighting Brightness 0, Contrast 0.43, Vignette 0, Light Direction X -0.14 and y -0.04; Texture Strength 0.47, Size 0, Loose Weave-3 and Background color an off-white (#ebecee); set to Strength 0.66.) On a duplicate layer used Nik Viveza 2 to pop up the colors back in the center of the image, but the Radial Filter in Photoshop’s Camera Raw Filter would work the same. Control Points were added to the globe light which was too bright and was drawing the eye off the image and the window in the lower left. Another point was placed in the middle to lighten up the center and direct eye towards the tower and boat on left side of exhibit. Did a clean up layer and darkened out the bottom edge and bottom right window light. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step to add just a little contrast back into the image. I feel that I am starting to figure out what effects I really like in this plug-in. It has been fun doing this since my time has been limited recently. It has been a long time since a new plug-in has been released with some different effects. Will catch ya again in a few…..Digital Lady Syd Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs: Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression More Painting with Topaz Impression Painting a Painter


DIGITAL LADY SYD SPEAKS OUT ON TOPAZ IMPRESSION

Image of flowers using Topaz Impression pluginThis is not a formal review of Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression due to some  constraints on my time right now, but I did want to give a quick shout out to them for creating for us Photoshop Lovers a new plug-in to fan our “flair for the artistic.” This is Topaz’s first attempt at making a painterly program – it is in a tough competition at this point since painting seems to be all the rage. I have had the opportunity to play around with this little gem for a few weeks and can say that once again, Topaz has a way of creating those little extras which makes you say – oh yeah, that’s really a nice feature!

Two things I really like about this program:

  • There is usually not really a lot that needs to be done to make the resulting image much better after applying one of the various presets they have created. I have played around with all the different sliders and settings, and find that adjusting the Stroke brush types is my personal favorite. All the Stroke sliders are really good so it is hard to choose a favorite from them.
  • My second really favorite item is that you can change the Hue, Saturation and Lightness of all the individual colors – this makes a huge difference depending on what colors you want to emphasize in the image. There are little red diagonal lines over the areas affected when hovering over each color with your mouse which is very helpful. (Something else I have never seen before.) Topaz has always been a leader in the way color is managed in their plug-ins. ReStyle set the bar very high for other software creators in this regard and Impression is continuing on with this tradition.

The image above was my first attempt at using Impression and I was totally surprised at how nice it turned out with very little manipulation. This image used one of their early Painting presets so the settings names do not match what was released but I know one of the new Painting presets is very close. I did set the image to Screen blend mode at 82% opacity – it gave a really nice finished look. I also used the Type 06 brush. Switch these brushes up and try different ones with the presets – you get some totally different results! The only other thing done after applying Impression was to use Topaz Detail 3 to sharpen up the focal points (the lower flower and secondary one is the pink and yellow one in the center). A black layer mask was applied (hold down ALT while pressing the layer mask icon in the Layers Panel) and just the centers were lightly painted back in. That was it!

Image of Clouds from my Front Porch with Topaz Impressions applied This little cloud image above was taken with my Android from my front porch here in Florida – got to love our skies! Used the Impression Pointillism II preset and made the follow changes to the preset: Stroke Brush Type 05, Brush Size 0.61, Paint Volume (Thickness) 0.27, Paint Opacity 1.00 (this really made the Impasto pop), Stroke Width -0.04, Stroke Length 0.11, Spill 0.14, and Smudge 0.05;  and in Color the Blue Saturation and Lightness were adjusted to give the sky a little more interest. These settings are a little rough since they were developing some of the settings for the program at the time this image was created. But the important thing is that by changing the brush types and those sliders in the Stroke section, some really interesting looks can be achieved. In the above I was leaning toward the bluish tones for the sky so that is what was adjusted. I even love the little stroke effects in the bushes in the foreground. Back in Photoshop there was not much extra work done except to add a selective color adjustment layer (Colors Whites – Yellow -7%, Neutrals Black +5, and Blacks Magenta +4, Yellow +9, and Black -7) – sort of  like adjusting blacks, midtones and whites in Levels. Last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer and a little more contrast into the light colors (pulled down just a little on corner at 3 – 1 in grid). I really like the results – especially just a little of the red tones peaking through the greenery. I had not even noticed that in the original image.

Image of some yellow daisies painted with Topaz Impressions plug-inThese daisies were taken on the Living With the Land ride at Epcot in Disney World, Orlando, Florida. I just love yellow daisies! I wanted to create an image reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Tournesols (Sunflowers) image although a Van Gogh preset was not used, but instead the Impasto I preset. In Lightroom Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Supertone EQ X preset and Hill and Lucas preset were applied. In Photoshop a little clean up was done to the edges and Topaz Impression plug-in was opened. These settings were changed in the preset: Stroke section: Brush Type 05 – for some reason I like this brush for the heavy painted look, Brush Size 0.61 – the larger the number the more painterly it looks, Paint Volume 0.76 – how see through is the effect, Stroke Width -0.34 – at +1 more of a scribble and -1 more realistic – I wanted a slightly realistic look here, Stroke Length 0.19, Spill 0.27 – set to 1 it will spill over the edge, Smudge 0.18 – I am using the very sparingly as it has a bit of the Oil Paint Filter look to it and I do not love that effect all the time, and Coverage 1.00 – do not care for the edging look at this time – if you reduce to less than +1 a Transition slider will appear; Color section Overall Saturation 0.17 and Lightness 0.06, Red Hue 0.29 and Saturation 0.10, Orange Saturation 01.0, Yellow Hue -0.10 and Saturation 0.11, and Green Hue 0.19; Lighting section Brightness 0, Contrast 0.92, and Vignette 0 – Light direction x-0.32 y0.60; and Texture section was left alone. After using the plug-in, I did a little clean up on a New Layer in areas that were a bit overdone, and added a Levels Adjustment Layer to bring back just a little contrast. The last step was on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) where Nik Viveza 2 was used to just saturate that middle flower a bit to draw the eye to it. This could just as easily be done using Camera Raw’s Radial Filter. It was a really fun working on this image.

What I have done is to go to the Users Manual which downloads with the plug-in (go to Help menu and it is there), and look at what they say each of the sliders do. I made a sheet with what Topaz says they do, and then what settings I like to use for them until I get used to what they do. Like I said, they have done a nice job of creating presets, so they do give you some nice starting places for adjusting your images. The Topaz team said they are continuing to work on adding to this plug-in, so it is great to know they are listening to their clients. That is one reason I love working with Topaz, their customer service is excellent. Impression is totally fun and very addictive – I could do this all day! If you have a chance, download it and see what you think. I will be writing a more thorough blog on this in the near future once I learned some tricks to get great effects. Still learning so better get back to it!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
New Impression of Octopus and Seahorse


MORE COMBINING PLUG-INS FOR GREAT EFFECTS!

Image of a beach on Greater Guana Cay in The BahamasJust having some fun and showing a couple files I worked with this week. This image was taken on the beach in front of Nippers Beach Bar and Grill on the Greater Guana Cay in The Bahamas. They claim to be located on the beach right off the third largest coral reef in the world. Totally fun place to go and I thought this was a rather fetching way to end the summer season before moving on to fall!

So what did I do to get this look? It did not start out this way at all – it was just a nice beach picture which I liked just because the water was so pretty and the people were doing something interesting. I did not follow my basic plug-in workflow like I did in the image below. In Lightroom Seim’s (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) PW4 Magic-Ugly Shade Fixer and Sampler Tone Chocolate presets were applied. Then in Photoshop the Shake Reduction filter was used – I am finding it works really well with any of my hand-held shots – subtle but nice difference! On a New Layer the Patch Tool was used to remove a few people in the right side of the image. The image looked pretty nice and what I thought I would originally post, but then I added Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle using my favorite preset, Cream and Plum. (Settings changed: Hue Primary -0.31; Sat no changes; and Lum Primary 0.08, Secondary 0.42, and Fourth -0.47; Texture Strength 0.44; Color Tone Black Level -0.81, Midtones 0.05, and White Level 0.20; and Detail Structure 0.34 and Sharpness 0.80.) This brought back a lot of the detail in the sand and water, but also gave the whole image a bit of a pink feel –  therefore in an added black layer mask (when you click the layer mask icon, hold down the CTRL key also to get a black mask), the people were painted in to remove the effect back in Photoshop. This layer was set to 89% opacity to reduce the overall effect a little.

Then a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added using a cream color (#eee3b9) set to Color Blend Mode at 34% layer opacity. The layer mask was turned to black (CTRL+I inside mask thumbnail) and the people were painted back. This color gave them more of a natural tan look. The photographer’s pants were bright red and drawing the eye away from the girls, so another Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added to turn the pants to a brown color (#221007). Did the same thing – filled the layer mask to black and just painted back the pants. It was also set to Color Blend Mode at 100% layer opacity. This is a cool way to change colors to an object in the photo – and by dragging in the Color Picker, you can see the change in live preview so you get just the right tone. I would recommend changing the layer to Color Blend Mode first before choosing a color so you can see the effect different colors are having. On a Stamped Layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik’s Viveza 2 was opened. Ten control points were added, mainly to the people and water at top edge to get nice effects. Did you know that if a control point overlaps into a different object and the results look bad, you can set another controlpoint  on that part – don’t have to make any slider changes – and it goes back to the original color(s)? By adjusting the size, you can remove any bad effects. I just love this plug-in!

On another Stamped layer, Nik’s Analog Efex Pro 2 was opened. I just love making my own presets so that is what I did in this plug-in. Only 4 sections were used: Basic Adjustments, Light Leaks, Lens Vignette, and Levels % Curves. (I named this preset Blown Out Beach and here are the settings if you are interested: Basic Adjustments – Detail Extraction 45%, Brightness -4%, Contrast 13%, and Saturation 0%; Light Leaks – Strength 23%, Soft type with the first top left corner leak used and set on the mid lower right between the girls; Lens Vignette – Amount 52%, slider under the ct in Rectangle, and Size 53%; and Levels & Curves – the grid is 16 blocks x 16 blocks so I will try to get the right location for the dots – RGB – (3,1) (9,10) (16,16), Luminosity (2,0) (11,8) (16,14.5), Red (0,0) (7,8 ) (16,16), Green (0,0) (3.5, 3) (16,16), and Blue (0,0) (5.5, 5.5) (13.5, 12.5) (16,16), and Opacity set to 70%.)

The last step involved adding Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Detail 3 (also one of my very favorite plug-ins) using another preset I created that caused this rather soft blur effect (settings for my preset I call Soft Leaves are: Detail – Small Details -0.51, Small Details Boost -0.40, Medium Detail -0.39, Medium Details Boost -0.30, Large Details -0.51, and Large Details Boost -0.42; and Tone Exposure -0.40, Cyan-Red 0.58, Magenta-Green -0.29, and Yellow-Blue 0.31.) The Tone Exposure sliders really added the nice color to the water. The last step was a “clean up” layer where the skin was smoothed by sampling color and painting with a soft round brush.

Image of Sandhill Cranes on our local golf courseI loved these wonderful Sandhill Cranes that were wandering around our golf course this week. I have never seen this type of bird here, so I had to rush and get their picture! What gorgeous birds! Every bit as majestic as the beautiful Herons that are all over the place! Since fall is arriving, I felt a fall feel should be added to the image. Following my basic workflow from my my Digital Lady Syd’s Plug-in Workflow blog, these effects were added: in Lightroom Seim’s Super Hero X Natural and Tint Bronzed Sepia presets were applied; in Photoshop the Shake Reduction was applied using Auto settings; Topaz Detail 3 was applied using my favorite preset (Detail Overall Medium Details 0.38 and Large Details 0.16 and Tone Contrast 0.30 and Shadows -0.01 ); next Nik’s Analog Efex Pro 2 created in first image was used (for this image these settings are different: set to Basic Adjustments with Detail Extraction to 70%, Brightness -23%, Contrast -9% and Saturation 28%; Light Leak Strength 36% and set in middle; and Lens Vignette – Amount 68%, Full right to Rectangle, Size 56% and set just above the birds); a New Layer was added for some burning on edges of the birds (see my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog); another New Layer was added and by using a soft low opacity brush, haloing was removed around the birds since this was taken on an Android phone; another New Layer was added where the vignette border was filled in using the Kahara brush created in my How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting Blog; a Curves Adjustment Layer was added for a little contrast to the image; and finished up with Nik’s Viveza 2 setting control points on the two left birds to sharpen and highlight a little, and on the background trees to give the soft fall color look – one of my favorite ways to end post-processing an image.

I really enjoy working with the plug-ins because they can give your image a unique effect if used properly. Nik’s Analog Efex Pro 2 and Viveza 2 work very well together. I do still love a good photograph but I am constantly trying to find something that is totally different, and the plug-ins often give me lots of options for this. It does take time to understand what each does, but once you find an effect you like, saving a preset speeds up the process for the  next time you use the the plug-in. Short but sweet blog for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO PAINT WITH A TEXTURE BRUSH FROM YOUR IMAGE

Image of a painted Rooftop at Harry Potter Land - Universal Studios OrlandoThis week I only have this one example using an image taken at Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios Orlando, but it works well for this very useful technique. Since I have been learning more about the brush engine in Photoshop, I discovered a rather useful way to link a part of the texture of the background to the brush being used to paint over the image.

Here are the beginning steps to making this image. First converted image to 8-bit (Image ->Mode->8-bit) so the brushes will paint faster. The sky was a very bland flat blue color so it just seemed to be begging for something to perk it up. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) Detail 3 was applied for an overall image sharpening and then some basic spot cleaning was done since my camera sensor was a little dirty.

Owl Steps: Next an owl brush from a set called harry_potter_brushes_by_nyvelvet-d4qcowz was applied on a New Layer by clicking just once at 100% brush opacity to get a nice owl outline. On another New Layer underneath, some brown was painted in the owl wings and head, then on another New Layer white was painted in other parts of the owl to make it stand out and look painted – just used a regular soft brush at 100% opacity. These three layers were grouped (highlight the layers and press CTRL+G) and named Owl.

A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and this layer was opened up in Topaz Simplify where the BuzzSim III preset was applied to use as an underpainting. This broke up the image into a really nice color palette that can be used to sample colors for painting over the main objects. Note you do not have to use Simplify (or Detail above), these are just some ways I am experimenting. An underpainting could be created using different Photoshop filters or adjustments layers. I plan on covering this topic at a later date. Used Topaz ReMask to remove the sky and the selection was loaded as a layer mask from the plug-in (check ReMask settings at bottom to set this up) although Photoshop could easily have used for this as it was a very easy selection. Now a texture needed to  be added underneath to fill up the sky and various ones were tried. I settled on French Kiss Atelier Georgia texture (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) which gave the image a nice painterly feel. Obviously the Simplify BuzzSim edges in the towers looked bad, but it is now time to make a brush to smooth these out.

Creating Brush Steps: A brush was made right in this image by turning off all the layers except the texture layer. Next use the Rectangular (or Elliptical) Marque Tool and select a small portion of the texture that represents an area that might make a nice brush. Press CTRL+J and it copies the brush selection up onto its own layer. Turn off the full texture layer and on top of the sample layer, add a Threshold Adjustment Layer to get a strong nice black and white look – all brushes have to be in black and white tones or it will not pick up the texture. I think my Threshold Level was set to 162. Highlight the brush layer under the adjustment layer and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. Down at the bottom of your Brush Presets Panel is your new brush. The new Brush now needs to be turned into a pattern, so on a New Layer a one stroke click was done with the new 208 pixel brush at 100% opacity in a black color. With the Marque Tool again just the brush stroke was selected and then go to Edit -> Define Pattern and name it the same as your brush. Deselect and highlight all three layers to put into another group and name brush and pattern.

Now the rest of the Brush in the Brush Panel must be set up. The Brush Tip Shape size was set 30 pixels and Spacing 56% – keep the Size small but play around with the Spacing watching the Preview area. Next in Shape Dynamics the Control was set to Off and the Angle Jitter to 4% – just enough to give a bit of variation. The last step involved adding the new brush pattern that was just created. By clicking on the down arrow next to the current texture, the last entry should be the new brush pattern just created – select it. Set the Scale to 131% – needs to be set over 100% so no obvious patterning is observed. If you are using the CC or CC 2014 versions of Photoshop, adjust the Brightness and Contrast sliders – I used Brightness -19 and Contrast 11. Make sure the Texture Each Tip is checked and change Mode to Multiply. Depth was set to 100% and Depth Jitter to 59%. All these settings can be manipulated until you get a stroke you like, but these are settings I used on this image. A new Brush Preset was created with these new settings by clicking on the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the panel. A video going over these brush and pattern steps is below in case you got lost in the description.

Finalizing the Image: Several New Layers were painted using just this Regular Brush to paint over the objects – no mixer involved – and by sampling in the different colors that Simplify supplied, the image could be painted fairly quickly. Basically I like to sample a darker similar color and paint over a light one and vice versa to get a nice blend effect. Since the texture adds enough empty space in the stroke the colors blend nicely and it also looks somewhat  like the added large sky texture. This does not have to be painted perfectly and it will give a totally painted look. It really was a lot of fun and did not take too long to complete. A Pattern Adjustment Layer with the new pattern set to 100% Scale was put on top. The layer opacity was set to Normal at just 3% layer opacity – just gave a little bit more of the overall texture. On a stamped layer, a Radial Filter was added in Camera Raw to help draw the focus to the top cupola.

Update: I just added a Tidbits Blogs called A Little More Painting with a Texture Brush where I finished up the image started in the video and got a very different result. Check it out for a couple more tips.

Hope you get a chance to try this – as you can see from the video, a different texture gives a very different brush – some are better and some are worse, but it is nice to be able to match the added texture to the paint brush strokes so the objects fit more smoothly into the texture. Have a good week!…..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.
…..
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.
…..
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!


Digital Lady Syd’s Artistic Flair!

This week I am just doing a post for the above image only – it took a long time to complete and I thought I would go over the workflow I used to create this rather current look. I have seen very similar images of  famous cities around the world in large poster format. This is an image of the street outside the London Bridge Station in Southwark, London (Boroughs High Street). I took this shot, without getting run over for some reason, during a Scott Kelby PhotoWalk where I joined a British group. It was a total blast and if you have not participated in his PhotoWalks, it is definitely worth the time – great way to meet local fellow photographers and it is free. Below is the original image – I thought you might find that interesting. Not an image that would normally catch my eye.
So how do you get the final image effect? The original image was a good choice for starters since street scenes lend themselves nicely for this look – this particular image has lots of color and detail in it before doing anything to it. Lightroom 5 was used to do a couple things. In the Lens Correction section the new Upright function using the Auto button was first selected. This straightened the image up instantly. The next important thing to do was the crop. After that was done, just minor tone adjustments were made before it made its way into Photoshop. I am finding I use the Auto Upright button on almost all my images now. (See my Tidbits Blog Lightroom 5′s New Upright Adjustments Section.)

I decided I wanted a painterly look so the first place I went was to Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Simplify 4 – this filter gives so many options and presets to try out different looks on your images. Here is what I did to get the image below. In Simplify the Oil Painting B&W preset was applied with the overall transparency set to 0.15 – the opacity of the Simplify layer was reduced to 69%. A white layer mask was added to bring back the detail to all the people’s faces. One of my favorite texture people, Kim Klassen‘s Gentle Whisper texture was added on top and set to Soft Light blend mode at 35% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used next with a very slight drag down on the curve to increase the contrast a little. I thought I was done and below is what I had created. It was starting to look pretty interesting.

I came back to the image a few days later and just started playing around with it. I actually did three other iterations before I got the final look I wanted. The final image was completed by first adding several steps to the file above, then flattening and finishing up on a different file – this was mainly because the file size was getting too large to handle.

Three layers were added to the second image file using three different grunge brushes and painting different colors into different parts of the image. I used a pinkish-red color for three strips, a light tan on a few of the distant buildings, and pink for the top edge where the bridge bottom shows. It really is not too hard to experiment around and get the look you want. I did use a Burlap texture with the brush to get a nice rough edge. Just be sure you put each color on a separate New Layer so you can play with the opacity and color after the fact. Next Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Overall Strong Detail II setting – normally I would not use that much but a black layer mask was applied and just the signs were painted back sharp. The Detail was run again to get sharper edges where I needed them. When I do this, I paint on the mask using a 60 pixel brush set to 30% opacity – in fact this brush I use all the time. A New Layer was created to paint out the license plate numbers – just sampled the solid area and painted over them. This is the end of the first file. A composite layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and saved. The image below is where I am now at.

To get the final effect, the image had to be opened in Photoshop CS5 so Mike’s Kill White filter could be run from Adobe’s Pixel Bender filter which only runs on CS4 and CS5. This is one of the main reasons I have left CS5 on my computer. It is still the best filter for removing white in my opinion, and the one using Pixel Bender is better than their regular filter, which will now run on CS6-32 bit only. (Try removing the white in a layer and applying different layer styles or filters to it to get different effects.) Moving right along now, this file was opened in CS6-64 bit where I merged all but the top Kill White layer. On the Kill White layer, that shows holes were the white was, the layer style dialog was opened (double click outside thumbnail on the layer to open) and the Blend Mode was changed to Hard Light. The Blue Channels check box was turned off which popped in some nice cool gray colors that I really liked. In the Underlying Layer sliders, the black tab was split (ALT+click in the middle and pull apart) and set to 0/167 and the white tab was moved as one tab and set to 226. This adjusted the blue tone colors a little bit. The Fill Opacity was set to 55%. I still wanted more color splattered throughout the image but I did not want it to take away from the total image. A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Pattern) was added above and several patterns were tried. I settled on one I would never have thought would work – flashtuchka-d3e5lmu floral vintage patterns using the 10flo pattern (a black, pink and white rose pattern) at 515% Scale. If you look at the upper right tones, you can see a bit of the flowers in the grunge effect. The opacity was set to 60%. Four layers were created on top using Kim Klassen’s brush 2204 from the brushes set in her Cloth and Paper Collection. Any kind of light spray textured brush would work fine. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment was added to get rid of any tones that were too yellow – it was ruining the overall effect. The Yellows Saturation was set to -74 and a black layer mask was added. Just the yellow items were painted out slightly using my 30% opacity soft round brush again. Also the faces were painted back to a more natural color. The last step involved adding a Composite layer on top and my SJ B&W Border Frame.

This may not be exactly what your taste is in art, but I hope I was able to give you some ideas on what you can do with an image by just playing. I really had no idea where it would end up, but by trying different effects, I was able to find something that is both personal to me and I would not mind hanging up in my home. I do not consider myself an artist in the strictest sense, but I do look at some of my work and feel that it does express an artistic flair that represents me, and that to me is art!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Some Beach Fun!
How to Get That Creative Painterly Look
Photo Art Compositing For Fun
Digital Lady Syd’s Photo Art Workflow


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!


Native American Beauty

This week I decided to just display a few of the beautiful images I got from the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida this past January. If you get a chance to go to a Native American event, it is a great place to photograph unusual items and the colors are wonderful! This headdress was one of the most beautiful things I saw.  Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Detail 3’s Overall Strong II preset was applied first. Topaz Simplify’s BuzSim preset was applied to a duplicate layer. With a soft black brush on an added layer mask, the edges of the feathers were painted back in showing the layer below. A composite layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and Topaz Adjust 5’s French Countryside preset was selected. The layer mask for the Simplify layer was copied by highlighting it – press ALT and drag it up to the Adjust layer. Next Kim Klassen‘s texture 1612 (beautiful texture that was free by signing up for her newsletter) was left to Normal blend mode at 89%, but a layer mask was applied to the texture and the center painted out to clear out the middle. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to lighten the image up just a little. A New Layer was added to burn in and define some of the feather edges where they overlap in the image. (See my Fun Photoshop Blog The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! for more information on how to do this.) The last step involved adding my free SJ Painter Oil Frame to the image with a Bevel and Emboss Layer style (check Texture and set Scale 100% and Depth +79} – used my SJ Smudge Texture set to grayscale for a pattern, but any gray and white pattern would be fine). The frame was set to 72% opacity.
…..
These Rawhide Rattles are something I do not ever remember seeing before. One of the vendor’s had this assortment for sale. The image was first processed in Nik Color Efex Pro 4 using three filters stacked: Detail Extractor, Midnight set to Neutral Color Set and Opacity of 67%, and Monday Morning using Sepia Color Set at 80% opacity – kind of an unusual group. 2 Lil’ Owls Workbook Bonus Texture 16 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was applied using Soft Light at 100% opacity. In the white layer mask, some of the detail was brought back on the left rattle. Basically that was all that was done to get this very antique look.
…..
This image of a Mexican Aztec dancer was a little difficult to process due the fact that there were a lot of distractions in the background, and his face was not real clear and needed a lot of clean up. The feathers in his headdress were so beautiful that I really wanted to process the image. Therefore, first the headdress was carefully extracted the Quick Selection Tool and Quick Mask Mode, and Shadowhouse Creations Rage Texture was placed behind him and set to Normal at 100% opacity. Topaz  Adjust 5’s Painting Venice preset and Topaz Detail 3’s Overall Detail Medium II preset were applied. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was used to adjust the Reds and Yellows in the image. A frame was added and set to a tan color.
…..
This was a wide assortment of Native American toys that were on a bright red tablecloth. I decided it would look better as a sketch with toned down colors. In Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to make the image overexposed. Topaz Simplify 4 was added and a preset was created using a painting preset as a starting point and Quad Tones of Black/Deep Red/Gold/Light Yellow tones were applied at a Tone Strength of .57. An Overall Transparency of .31 was applied. I ran Simplify 4 again on a duplicate background layer and this time applied a light black and white preset. Back in Photoshop it was stacked it on top of the first Simplify layer and set to Soft Light.  A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed on top where Reds Saturation was set to -41 to desaturate the color slightly. Kim Klassen’s Mary texture was applied using Normal Blend Mode and just painting out the center of the texture in a layer mask. As a last step, a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied using the Auto button to even out the colors and contrast. I think it gives a really nice sketch look and is appropriate for the various types of objects that were being displayed.
…..
These are feather headbands that were also being sold by a vendor. This is a funny story as I would never have used these settings if not for some spam I received from a comment that referenced how he added texture to his images. Here is the result I got from following some of the process. First Topaz Adjust 5’s Spicify preset was applied at 83% opacity. Next apply Topaz Simplify 4’s Watercolor II preset. Changed image to an 8-bit mode and went to Filter -> Stylize ->Diffuse Filter and selected anisotropic. Exit filter and rotate document -90 degrees counter clockwise using Free Transform (CTRL+T). Apply same filter again. Exit and rotate image clockwise +90. Apply the filter for a third time. Now go to Filters -> Texture -> Texturizer and set texture to Canvas, Scaling 200%, Relief 7, and Lighting Top. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Level was applied increasing the saturation to +30 and a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to increase contrast. Kind of a strange technique but I really liked the results.

I hope you enjoyed these images – nice to do something a little different. Have a nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Using Curves Adjustment Layers to Get Rid of Shadows and Highlights

This may be my very favorite method of evening out an images tonality. Usually I am not shooting during the Golden Hours and my images have a lot of bright spots in the highlights or huge and dark shadows. The following technique may not cure all the problems, but it can certainly help draw the eye to other areas so the picture is saved. I learned this great technique from David Nightingale‘s CreativeLIVE course called Dramatic Post-Processing. (Check out David’s Photoblog – he has some great images posted. Also check CreativeLIVE for other interesting courses – the site has free live broadcasts running around the clock on a variety of topics.) He sometimes uses as many as 20 Curves Adjustment Layers to fine-tune an image. My image above used three. This is Navajo Horsehair Pottery by Matt Vail, a Navajo potter and artist (unfortunately he does not have a website but sells his wares with a vendor at the local Native American Festivals held around the country), who uses the golden sunset colors  Each piece is hand-etched. The horse hair is from the mane and tail that burns when it touches the hot pottery leaving a light stain cooked into it. This makes unique patterns on each piece. The colors are absolutely beautiful, and I actually bought the purple and gold one in the center. Some have turquoise added to the pottery and can be quite expensive.

Let’s start with my pottery image that had too many highlights issues.

1.  Add a Curves Adjustment Layer (click on half moon icon at bottom of Layers Panel and select Curves) and click on the Adjustment Eyedropper Tool icon in the upper left of the panel under the word Preset. This creates an eyedropper that can be used for sampling the image.

2. With the eyedropper active, click on the part of your image with a problem area. In the case of my pottery image, the front red and blue pottery piece near the blue ring where the highlights are blown out was sampled in the top left image below. If a shadow needs to be lightened, sample the dark area of the shadow, but only choose one area at a time. A white point will appear on the Curves Adjustment Layer showing the point that was sampled with the eyedropper on the straight diagonal line curve.

3. Underneath the RGB curve there is an Input field  and an Output field showing the same number relating to this point on the curve.

4. Move the Adjustment Eyedropper Tool back over the image again. As you move over the image, a little white circle moves up and down on the curve diagonal line showing what tone is under the tool. The numbers in the Input/Output fields are also changing as you move over the different parts of your image. This time just hover over an area that represents the new tone and/or color for the blown-out highlights or deep shadow areas, but do not click! Look at the new Input/Output number and remember it – this is the number to be placed in the Output field.

5. Unfortunately once you click back in the Curves panel, the field spaces disappear. To open them up, place your cursor over the white point so it turns into a cross hair and click on it – the fields will open up. In the Output field enter the new number from Step 4. There will now be a rounded curve with a new white point shown – although if the numbers have very different amounts, the curve may turn into very straight lines. You can always manually adjust the curve to get the effect needed, even adding extra points or sample again. Sometimes it is necessary to create two Curves Adjustment Layers and increase the tone in two different steps. For my pottery image a whitish color located in my purple and yellow pot was used for the Output field. To toggle between the Input and Output fields, just press TAB.

6. Fill the Curves Adjustment Layer mask black (by clicking inside it and pressing CTRL+I) and with a low opacity (like 12-30%) soft white brush, paint in the areas that need the new tone applied. Just build up the area until it blends in nicely with the other parts of your image.

The Curves Adjustment Layer technique can be used as many times as needed on different parts of your image. And the Curves can always be adjusted after-the-fact by clicking on the Curve icon in the Layers Panel – your settings will reappear. If you want to see a larger view of the image below, click on it for Flickr view.

The bottom row of images above is changing the Red Curve to darken the foreground tablecloth color. To do this, just open up the RGB field drop-down and find the color to blend in. You can manually change the curve or you can use the Eyedropper and place the point on the Red Curve, then find the output color number. This can be done using all three color channel curves and the Info panel, but it can get a little tricky. I use a Curves Adjustment Layer when I just need a small color change as shown above where the Red Channel Curve was manipulated. If a large color shift is required, the Hue/Saturation or Selective Color Adjustment Layers are easier to use.

Here are what the curves with the Input and Output fields included looked like for the two changes above. The white parts in the Curve Layer Masks are the areas being affected by the change. (White reveals and black conceals.) Click on the image below for a larger view in Flickr.

This technique can be used on a landscape as well as close-ups or portraits. It can really improves an image using very subtle changes and it is easy to do once you get the hang of it. This is one of the reasons that Curves in Photoshop is so powerful. Some people actually take their images into Photoshop just for this blending feature as Lightroom and ACR’s Tone Curves can not be manipulated like this. If you cannot get it matching completely, create a New Layer and just sample and paint with a low opacity brush to finish the clean up – see Getting Rid of Those Blown Out Areas in Your Image. (Just to give credit where it is due, the pottery image used Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Adjust 5’s Spicify preset and Topaz Detail 3 – best sharpening program around. Kim Klassen’s beautiful textures Desert at 78% layer opacity and Archived Set-printed set to Hard Light blend mode at 70% layer opacity. Sign up for Kim’s newsletter and get several of her beautiful textures including the Archived texture used on top in the above.)
…..
My images taken at the 24th Annual Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida, were all taken in very bright sunlight at around high noon so there were heavy shadows everywhere and lots of strong highlights. This next image of a large stuffed brown bear was another example where two Curves Adjustments Layers were applied to get more detail and to even out the coloring of the fur.
Topaz Detail 3 was applied using the Overall Medium Detail II preset and the Tone preset Skin Brightening II (check out the new drop-downs on the right side panel sections). Next a Curves Adjustment Layer sampling the dark area as an Input Amount (8) on the right side shoulder and using a setting from the chest for the Output amount (28). The Curves layer mask was filled with black by clicking inside and pressing CTRL+I to make it black. Then the shadow areas were slowly built using a white brush at 30% opacity. Since this was such a drastic change as can be seen in the before and after above, a second Curves Adjustment Layer was applied again sampling roughly the same area, but this time the Input Amount was 29 (close to the Output Amount with first curve) and an Output amount of 56 was used. This does not have to be exact. But you can really see the shadows and color open up! Another Curves Adjustment Layer was applied but for colors, not tone. The Red Channel Curve was pulled up slightly to return some of the reddish tone to the image. A Levels Adjustment Layer was applied and the contrast was increased slightly with the Output Level set to 34 to add a softer, more hazy look to the image. The Sharpen Tool was used on the eyes and mouth areas just a little. 2 Lil’ Owls Mosaic Set Aveline texture (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link), a basic light cream color, was set to Multiply blend Mode and layer opacity. Next French Kiss’s free Glorious Grunge Edging Overlay was added. A red color from the skin was sampled in yet another Color Adjustment Layer to get the matching red color. I also created both a Darken and a Lighten layer following my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog to finish up.

These Curves are major powerful and it is definitely worth time to try them out – it can totally save an image. I use this method at least half the time when processing my images – most people do not take the time to learn how to do this and their images look like it. Give it a try and see if you don’t immediately see improvements in your images!…..Digital Lady Syd