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Posts tagged “Topaz Impression


Image of two peach rosesThis week I am presenting just a rather simple technique about how to make your objects blend gently into the image at the end of your workflow. I am not sure I have ever heard of anyone using a Luminosity Channel this way, but it works quite well. The roses above were taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida recently.

So here is a quick rundown of what was done to this image before the Channel Effect technique. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression plug-in was used to get the painterly effect. Normally I would hand paint this, but when playing around in the plug-in, the Watercolor I preset was used with adjustments to the color settings. Then some sketch lines were added using a free brush, Kyle’s Drawing Box-Animator Pencil New – it is the best sketch brush I have found for drawing in small lines to differentiate areas in a painting. Used white and light tan to emphasize some of the indistinguishable edges. On a stamped image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above Topaz Texture Effects Crisp Morning preset was applied (one of my favorite presets in this plug-in) with the Texture Opacity set way back to 0.17. On another stamped layer the newly free Nik Viveza 2 was used to emphasize the three focal points in the image: the main focal point which is the center of the large flower, the second is the bud and the third is a small area in the large lower left leaf. Next on another stamped layer a slight vignette effect was added using Topaz Lens Effects’s Add Selective Add Vignette filter using the Soft Pearl preset. Below is an example of the Original image as brought into Photoshop and the image before the Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was applied.

Tych Panel of Original and Before Curves Applied images

Now for the Luminosity Channel effect. I learned this trick from a wonderful presentation by Karen Alsop on Creative Live called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World. There were lots of little tips throughout her presentation, but this one really came across as a real interesting way to get a nice finished look to an image.

  1. Go to the Channels Panel and highlight only the Red Channel. Click on the first icon at the bottom of the panel called Load Channel as a Selection. Now dancing ants are showing the Highlights as selected for only the Red Channel.
  2. Switch to the Layers Panel and click on the half black and half white circle (forth icon over at the bottom of the panel) and select the Curves Adjustment Layer or just open the Adjustments Panel and select the Curves Adjustment Layer (the graph looking icon). Voila, the selection goes into the Layer Mask of the Curves Adjustment Layer.
  3. Now just adjust the curve to make the image appear a little more softer in the highlights – I find that I am slightly pulling down in the middle of the graph to get a more pleasing effect to most images.

This definitely does give a much softer feel to the overall image as you should be able to see in the Tych Panel image on right above and the final top image. I did this as the last step in the workflow. You are not limited to just the Red Channel, try all the different channels – one might be better for different photos. What you are seeing with the mask is that the white areas in the mask will be affected by the curve, but the black areas will not be affected. This means your bright highlights will be slightly darkened and the darker colors and shadows will not be affected by the graph curve. On the above, just the whitest of the whites were affected the most, then less as the colors became darker in value. And remember this is a value effect – meaning lightness and darkness. A Red can be a light color or a dark color depending on the hue that is being used. Just because you have a very bright yellow does not mean it is darker – it is still a light value.


Image of an Ocelot walking in the wildThis ocelot was pacing around in his cage at the West Palm Beach Zoo recently. They are nocturnal animals but all the little kids were making lots of noise at the zoo that seemed to be making him nervous I think. He finally found a dark cool tube and was sound asleep before too long. This workflow was very long – just say that it involved lots of filters and hand-painting in Photoshop, and creating a hand-painting a Corel Painter background. Also the beautiful clouds were created from Grut’s  wonderful FX Cloud Brushes – the best around! The last step was adding the Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer and dragging down the curve just a little. It really made the Ocelot look like he was actually part of the added background.

This is a pretty simple trick to use. If you have an object you are trying to blend into the image or just do not like the overall contrast in the image, try this. It seems to be improving a lot of my recent images! Have a good weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd



Image of giraffes on painted background Still working around my office, but thought I would post a picture showing a little group of giraffes taken at the Jacksonville Zoo. The basic technique is that you can apply a filter to a layer without applying it to the whole image to tie it all together very easily.

The giraffes were selected in Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask 5 but any method works fine, then the resulting  layer mask was applied in PS. Next one of my Corel painted textures was placed underneath the giraffe layer. Topaz Impression was opened on the giraffe layer and the Van Gogh I preset was applied with no changes. The small giraffe’s head was too dark so it was lightened by adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to lighten the head (ignored the rest of the image) – then filled the layer mask with black and painted back with a low opacity soft round white brush just the head. On three separate new layers above, the free Frostbo’s Grass Set 2 brushes were used to add the grass – just change the size and add Color Dynamics for brush variety. These layers were put in a group and the group duplicated.  Turned off the original group and with the duplicated group, right clicked and selected Merge Group. Topaz Impression Van Gogh I was also applied to the grass which really give it a nice painterly effect. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Light It Up overlay in mini set 5 was placed on top and set to Color blend mode at 85% layer opacity. This warmed up the image a little. Topaz ReStyle was added at 47% layer opacity to give a bit of color back into the giraffe bodies. Dodging and Burning was done with Overlay layers using a black or white brush set to 15% brush opacity. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik Viveza 2 (now free – go get it!) was used to emphasize the focal points and add a slight vignette feel in the corners. That was it.

Hope you got a few tips here – the best thing to understand is that you can actually apply a filter just to a layer that contains objects only for some pretty nice effects – it does not have to be applied to the whole image……Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Hidden Gazebo at Jacksonville Zoo This week I am going back to something a little more fun than what was done the last two weeks on organizing your brushes. The Match Color Command is one I have not used often, but it can help when you need a slightly different color scheme for your image. By finding an older picture that had colors you liked, it is pretty easy to apply to a new one. The shot above attracted me because of the rather hidden feel of the gazebo – it was taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and is along the Trout River. See the end of blog for more info on the rest of the post-processing and settings for this image.

The Match Color Command has been around for a while. Basically you are selecting a layer that shows your current image and by going to to Image -> Adjustments -> Match Color to open dialog, another Source image can be selected in the drop-down. Luminance, Color Intensity and Fade sliders can be used to make the current image look correct. For this to work, you need to have the other image that you want to use as a Source opened in Photoshop.  Below is a screenshot showing the image before Match Color was applied.

Screenshot of image before Match Color Command appliedI used a very different color scheme from an image created a while back as the Source file. (See my Little White Convertible in my Tidbits Blog.) It can be seen in the little preview box below. There are 3 sliders that can be used to adjust how the image looks since just applying the colors as is does not usually look great. In this case the Luminance (lightness) slider was set to 55, Color Intensity (saturation) set to 130, and Fade (amount the Source image colors are used – set to 100 will have no Match Color effect at all) set to 44. The Neutralize check box is used to neutralize any color cast in the image – I find it does not usually help my image.

Screenshot of Image with Color Match dialogThere are a a few other choices at the bottom of the dialog. The Layer drop-d0wn lets you select any layer in the Source image to use as the color samples. It defaults to None when opened. You have an option to choose Merged to merge layers together to create one layer. See the list in the Layer drop-down below for the Source image layers that could be used. The screenshot shows what the image would look like if the original Source background layer was used – quite a different effect! I made sure I was using a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top to apply the effect so I did not have to worry about this. It is also worth noting that a different image does not have to be used to apply Match Color if there are several layers in the original image. I could have selected this image (Target image) and also select it as a Source and choose the Background layer, for example, to this layer. It will give yet a different effect! Definitely worth experimenting with this.
Image of Match Color Dialog featuring Layer drop-down fieldUnfortunately this command does not work as a Smart Object. The two check boxes in the Image Statistics section can be used if you have an active selection when you enter the dialog. There is a pretty handy feature listed here and I would not have know what it was without Lesa Snider’s wonderful Photoshop CS6 – the missing manual that is my constant resource. She says in the Tip Box that you can save your settings as a preset by clicking on the Save Statistics button and give the preset a name. Next time you want to use these settings, you do not have to open the Source image but can just click the Load Statistics button and select your preset.

Screenshot of Load Statistics buttonAbove is a screenshot showing how the preset made from the White Car Source in the first image was used on a second image (see original image at my Tidbits Blog Desolate Roller Coaster) without opening the image. I did discover that the slider settings do not save in the preset so they have to be adjusted for each image after the preset is applied. This is an important feature to have if you want to carry the same color effects across several images, like for a photo book or triptych. I made a folder called Match Color presets in my Adobe CC Roaming folder to store them.

Well I hope you found this informative. It is a command I have not used much, but I can actually see some uses for it. Give is a spin and see what you think. Stay warm until next time…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1: As you can see, the final image is not what the Match Color Command result looked like. That is because I decided to set my Match Color layer to Divide at 65% layer opacity which turned it a major yellow. Topaz Glow using TG SJ Mysterious II Water preset and just changed colors to these amounts – Orange Sat 0.56 and Lightness -0.43; Yellow Sat 0.93 and Lightness -0.29; and Green Sat 0.17 and Lightness 0.69; Set layer to Soft Light. (Here are the other slider settings: Primary Glow:  Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 0.30, Effect Sharpness 0.63, Electrify 0.14, Simplify Details 0.17, Edge Color 0.28, Detail Strength -0.06, Detail Size 0.20, Brightness -0.56, Contrast 0.44, Saturation 0.00, Line Rotation 0.00, and Glow Spread 0.00; and Secondary Glow:  Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.00, Effect Sharpness 0.22, Electrify 0.03, Simplify Details 0.00, Brightness 0.45, and Contrast 0.64.) Set this layer to Soft Light blend mode. On a stamped layer Topaz Impression’s Blake Rudis Abstract Settings was applied as is (this may come with Impressions as I cannot find where I got the settings.) Nik Viveza 2 was used to direct the eye to the gazebo. Several adjustment layers were added along the way like Color Balance, Curves, and Levels. The last step was to create another stamped layer and open Photoshop’s Texturizer Filter (Filter -> Texture -> Texturizer) and these settings were used: Texture Canvas, Scaling 151, and Relief 4.



Image of a little girl thinking of her favorite things!The above is a pretty good example of a composite. Just one new image of this beautiful little girl this week as compositing takes a while to do correctly. She was looking through a chain-length fence at some flowers outside the Jacksonville Zoo in very bright sunlight, so I had to put her in a more suitable place. Last year I did a blog called How to Use the PixelSquid Add-On in Photoshop that was an example of creating a composite image using their 3D components. This image used various elements from Scrapbook sites that provide so much wonderful content.

I think the hardest thing about doing a composite is to make it look like all the elements fit together even though they come from different sources. Since the sun was very strong on the little girl, I decided to use her lighting throughout the image. First the little girl was removed from the original image using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask. It was not a perfect layer mask as her hair was a little rough, but for this image the color contamination blended in just fine. The next thing was to find a nice background to place her in. This is one I call Bright Fall Leaves that was created in Corel Painter a while back. With backgrounds it just takes a lot of experimentation to find the one that creates an effect you like. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was actually applied to the background to make it more saturated (+39) and childlike. I liked the way it looked as if there was a little trail she could follow out of the image.

After this, some really cute elements were added in. Note that when using scrapbooking websites, usually the individual person who creates a set of elements requires some form of link back to their sites. Check out these scrapbooking sites as they have some wonderful free sets to practice using and many inexpensive sets for creating some fabulous designs. The E-scape and Scrap Pinkish Frog is from FS Pinkish Scrapbook; the Mr. Whiskers Bird, Deer, and Plant on left are all from a really cute set called Hollewood HappyUnbday by Lorie Davison of; the Bug in her hand is also by Lorie called sendingalittlehappinessyourway-littledragonfly1: and the Flowers on the right are from Algera Designs. All these elements needed either a Topaz Lens Effects right side reflector filter preset or a Color Balance Adjustment Layer. It is important to get all the elements blending together and I find both these choices work best for me.

I still was not happy with how everything was blending together, especially the girl’s skin, so I decided to try a technique that seems to be rather popular on images. Many creatives are taking their images into Topaz Impression and applying a preset. Then back in Photoshop they are either lowering the blend mode so it barely applies to the image, adding a layer mask and just using the preset for softening the backgrounds, or changing the blend mode of the filter plug-in to get some different effects. For this image, a stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Impression’s Ethereal Glaze by Blake Rudis was applied. Now the girl’s skin just blended into the image beautifully and the tone was really nice. But it took a lot of the interesting detail out of my background texture. Therefore a layer mask was added and a soft round brush set to 30% layer opacity was added. Just built up areas where I wanted my rough effect showing through by painting in black. The major elements were slightly painted back to make them stand out a little more in the image. The last step was to use Nik Viveza 2 to balance out the brightness in the image to get that balanced sunny feel throughout.

So what I discovered is that for some basic compositing, use a reflector filter effect to even out the lighting in all elements. Topaz Lens Effects or Nik Color Efex Pro both have filters that will do this nicely. I have not tried out PS Lighting Effects, but that might work just fine. Also Color Balance Adjustment Layers work nicely to even out color tones since they can be adjusted in Highlights, Shadows and Midtones. Several were used to blend in the elements. Then try out a paint plug-in like Topaz Impression or Snap Art 4 to blend elements together into something that looks quite natural. And do not forget those shadows – either lighten them up or add them in when needed.

Image of an some Victorian young ladiesThis image is from my Tidbits Blog called A Victorian Visit. Similar steps were used to create this effect. It is so much fun to create images this way. Compositing is a nice technique to learn if you are into the design world. Experimentation can give some of the best results so that is what I recommend to get some really creative results. Check out the blogs below for a couple other examples. Hope you get a chance to try some of these tips!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Related Blogs:
How to Create an Image From Nothing!
Springtime Wishes from Betsy


This week I am reposting one of my Tidbits Blogs from 2012 that is just as relevant now as then. I am constantly wanting to change my Lightroom presets to Camera Raw presets – I have so many new ones, but the basic method still works pretty good. There is only one limitation to this process – there is currently no way to save the Lightroom pin settings for the Radial Filter Tool, Graduated Filter Tool, and Adjustment Brush, which so many of the very new presets contain. The pins will have to be added in manually when using those settings in Camera Raw. But at least the basic effect can be applied.

So why would you want to do this? Since the Camera Raw Filter can now be opened within Photoshop, it is nice to have access to some of your favorite presets. Now the preset effect can be applied to any layer, not just the Background layer, and it is easy to add a Layer Mask to localize the preset effect. And the layer’s blend mode and/or opacity can also be changed to give a different look.

So here is my earlier blog as follows:

I occasionally come across a need to take a Lightroom preset and use it as a preset in Adobe Camera Raw. This is not as complicated as it seems. Below are the steps required to accomplish this task.

1. Apply the preset in Lightroom and make sure you know which panels and sliders were used to create the preset. (If preset not already created, to save preset in Lightroom, on left side of Presets line, click (+) for “Create New Preset.” Name preset.)

2. Right click on image in Lightroom and select Edit in -> Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. The image is opened in Photoshop with the Smart Object icon on bottom right of thumbnail in Layers Panel.

3. Double click on thumbnail and it opens up into Adobe Camera Raw. Go to Presets panel (9th icon on right-hand side under the histogram) and click the folder icon at the bottom of the panel to open the New Preset dialog. Name and click the items you want included in the preset, then click OK. Your new preset now shows up in the Presets panel.

You can now use your Lightroom preset anytime you want in Adobe Camera Raw also. I usually start my personal preset names off with an SJ so I know they are mine. It is easy to get presets from many different sources as time goes on so it helps to know which are yours.

The image above is of a miniature mum in my yard. For information on how to create this preset and how the image was finished, see bottom of blog for details on Image 1.

Image of a Suit of ArmourNow back to today’s blog which shows an example of combining the presets on different layers using the Camera Raw Filter. This Suit of Armour was in front of the Royal Mile Armouries Store near Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. With this image the Background layer was duplicated (CTRL+J), set to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), and the Camera Raw filter was opened. Trey’s (Radcliffs) Free Packs A Beautiful Release (from Jan 2015) preset was applied – I had previously followed the procedure above to add the Lightroom preset to my list of Camera Raw presets in the Presets tab. It does not include the Graduated Filter Tool or Radial Filter effects that are part of the the Lightroom preset. (This is because the New Preset dialog does not have an options to save these settings.) Next a stamped layer was created above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Impression’s Urban Street Art II preset was applied as is. Since I did not like the brick effect running across the armour, another identical stamped layer was created, placed on top, and Impression was opened again. Urban Street Art II was applied again but this time the Texture slider was set to 0 so no texture was showing. Back in PS, a black layer mask (CTRL+I in white layer mask) was added. With a white brush, just the armour was painted back showing the texture now removed in that area. Next the Background layer was duplicated again, moved to the top of the layers stack, and converted to a smart object. The Camera Raw Filter was opened and another preset was applied – one with a lot of HDR for emphasizing the edges of the armour (see Image 2 at end of blog for preset settings). A black layer mask was added and this time just some of the sharp lines in the armour were painted back softly to emphasize the armour effect just a little – used a brush set to 20% brush opacity and 30% Flow. To make the image just a little darker, here is a little trick – instead of duplicating the layer and setting it to Multiply, just add any adjustment layer making no changes and set it to Multiply – keeps the file slimmer and does exactly the same thing. Here a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment Layer was set to Multiply blend mode and the layer opacity was set to 49%. Last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to even out the tones in the helmet of the armour. Since these steps are a little confusing, here is what my Layers Panel looked like showing two Camera Filters using two different presets.
Screenshot of Layers Panel for Suit of Armour ImageIt really is easy to convert the Lightroom preset into Camera Raw presets – I hope Adobe is considering adding the Radial Filter Tool, Graduated Filter Tool, and Adjustment Brush pin settings in the New Preset dialog. It would really help to get the exact look from the newer Lightroom presets that are now available. At least the results can be mimicked if you have the Lightroom preset, just takes longer to copy the effect exactly. It still is great to be able to combine the preset effects and there are many possibilities for additional creativity here. Hope you give this a try! …..Digital Lady Syd

To create Image 1 preset, changes were made to: the Tone Curve set to Highlights -24, Lights +41, Darks -56, and Shadows -54; HSL – Luminance sliders set to Red -41, Orange -9, Purple -2, Magenta -50 and all others 0, and Saturation sliders set to Red -2, Purple +32, Magenta +59 and all others set to 0; Effects Post-Crop Vignetting Style set to Highlight Priority with Amount -61, Midpoint 33 Feather 0 and others set to 0. To finish, image was sharpened and border was from OnOne (Photo) Effects (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) – in Photoshop petals were painted over frame edge using a layer mask on first acid burn frame.

Image 2 SJ HDR Split Tone Preset settings: Basic Panel – Highlights -100, Shadows +100, and Clarity +73; and Split Toning Panel – Highlights Hue 52 and Saturation 64, Balance +49, and Shadows Hue +215 and Saturation 50.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get a Localized Blur in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw
How to Create a Blown Out Effect Preset in Lightroom or Camera Raw
How to Use the DeHaze Slider in Lightroom and Camera Raw


Image of Hawaiian PlumeriaSo even if you do not have Corel Painter or artistic talent, you can get some pretty amazing results with some Photoshop plug-ins and layer masks. These beautiful plumeria were taken in Hawaii and are a good example of what can be done with just a little set up. I am giving you some of my preset settings that you can try to see if you can get good some results.

This image used Topaz (see website at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression to do the basic paint effect in this image. This worked because I created a wild preset in Impression I call SJ WC like effect on bkgds with the Brush Stroke changed to 1.00, to get this abstract background look. (Settings: Stroke: Brush Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 0.26, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0.15, St -0.20, and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and Lightness 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, and Light Direction x0.33 and y0.06; and Texture: Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type Solid, and Background #d38967 (soft melon color). ) I was really surprised what these rather strange settings did to the background and making it look as though it was actually painted by hand. By duplicating the layer underneath and moving it on top of the Impression layer, then adding a black layer mask to it, the actual objects or flowers in this case can be painted back. See the original image as brought in from Lightroom at end of Image 2 section below. Since Topaz ReStyle had been applied to the layer underneath, there was already a bit of a grainy artsy effect applied to the overall image before Impression was applied to it. By duplicating the ReStyle layer, the graininess is still visible in the flowers when painted back and they blend in nicely with background. I tried adding another dose of the same Impression preset to the layer and got a very different background look so give this a try also. See Image 1 below for full instructions on the image workflow.

Instead of using a plain round brush, I used my SJ Pastel 3-painting texture adder brush set to a 30% or less brush opacity on the layer mask to add some softer edges when painting back the flowers. This is important to get a the painterly look. This same brush was used on several New Layers to clean up more edges, add some defining lines in the flowers, and blend in some additional color. (See my How To Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up blog for settings to create this brush.) Just sample colors, both the darker colors and lighter colors next to it, to soften edges. Any brush you like will do, but try to find something with some rough edges for this technique. I know I have mentioned it before, but has different media type brushes for Photoshop, and on each Monday a free brush can be downloaded-click on Resources tab. This is a great way to try out different kinds of brushes and see which ones work best for painting on New Layers and which work well with layer masks, or both.

Painted image of Flagler BeachThis image is of beautiful Flagler Beach, Florida, where another example of the same type of painted background effect was created. The original image was very blown out as I thought this was what I wanted the image to feel like at that point in post-processing. This time my SJ Painterly Impressionistic preset was used for the background, which produces a much smoother background effect. (Settings: Stroke: Brush Type 09, Brush Size 0.75, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation, Stroke Color Variation, Stroke Width, and Stroke Length all set to 0; Spill 0.63, Smudge 0.10, and Coverage 1.00; no Color changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture Strength 0.25, Size 0, Canvas II, Background Type white solid, and Background White.) A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) without including the Topaz Impression layer, and moved on top. Impression was opened again and my SJ Painterly Imp Mod was applied (Settings: SJ Painterly Imp mod – Stroke: Type 09, Point Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.75, Stroke Rotation 0, Stoke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width -0.25, Stroke Length -0.17, Spill 0.63, Smudge 0.09, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Saturation -0.23, Orange Sat -0.27, Yellow Sat 0.28, and Aqua Sat 0.51; Lighting Brightness 0.08 and Contrast 0.14; and Texture Strength 0.25, Size 0, Canvas II, Background Type white solid, and Background White.) Any plug-in or Photoshop filter could be applied at this stage to get different effects on the main objects. A black layer mask was added and just the wanted objects were painted back. The color scheme did not suit me so Topaz ReStyle was used on a stamped layer to change up the colors. Pretty easy to get this painterly effect. See Image 2 for more post-processing details.

Original images after Lightroom processing

Image of the Flamingo Boats at Sea World OrlandoThis time the image was taken at Sea World Orlando of the Flamingo Peddle Boats using Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4, which has a rather different approach to adding painterly effects to a layer. This program lets you set control points and make parts of the image very “photorealistic” if you want. In this case no control points were used but just the Impasto Detail preset. I really like the texture this plug-in adds to an image. This time the original background layer was duplicated and a black layer mask added. Only the fountains’ water was painted back from the original image. Topaz ReStyle was added above using a stamped layer on top with the Saturation Station preset, which created the pinkish tones. See Image 3 below for more details.

I hope you will try out either one or both plug-ins, Topaz Impression and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4, to see what results you can get. The whole basic concept is to change up a duplicate layer and apply something a little outrageous but making a nice background look. Then duplicate the original background layer, place it on top –  then apply a different filter to it, use the same filter with different settings, or just use the original layer. Add a black layer mask (CTRL+I in the mask to change white to black) and with a white low opacity brush paint back what you want to show through. Use different types of brushes to paint back these effects in the masks. These two painterly plug-ins are not the only ones that will give nice effects – try Topaz Adjust or Topaz Simplify, or maybe Nik Analog Pro 2 for example. And don’t forget to try Topaz ReStyle if you want to change up the color scheme. This all can give a really nice painterly effect without having to paint every stroke in the image.

Enjoy your painting!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1:  First do the basic tone and color changes in Lightroom or Camera Raw. In Photoshop, I used Topaz Detail to sharpen up the image as I wanted the details to still show up nicely in the flowers and the colors were also adjusted in this plug-in. Topaz ReStyle was applied on a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFTS+E) above. This time I used a preset that had lots of blue tones as I wanted the colors to be more bluish as opposed to the yellow and green colors in the original and it softened the background colors. A Basic Mask in the plug-in was used to paint back just the flowers to keep the details. Next Topaz Impression was opened on a duplicate layer and my SJ WC like Effect on bkgds presets was used to get this crazy painterly background. Settings are shown above. The ReStyle layer was duplicated and placed on top with a black layer mask (Add layer mask and  (CTRL+I) in the mask to turn black).  Clean up on several layers and Nik Viveza was used to slightly darken the background edges and lighten the flowers a little. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to increase contrast.

Image 2: First Topaz Clarity was applied to the image – used one of my presets to get the image the sharpness I wanted (SJ Big Clouds preset with changes: Dynamics Micro Contrast 0.98, Low Contrast -0.14, Medium Contrast 0.22, and High Cntrast -0.37; Tone Level -0.23, Midtones 0.19, and White Level -0.19; Hue Green -0.30; Sat Red 0.03, Orange -0.78, Yellow 0.28, Green 0.19, Blue -0.25, and Overall 0.03; and Lum Red 0.39, Orange 0.11, Yellow -0.47, Green 0.23, Aqua 0.55, Blue -0.09, Purple 0.14, Magenta -0.20, and Overall -0.20. ) I like to use Clarity on landscape images. Topaz DeNoise 5 was used set to Overall 0.13 and Highlights 0.72. Since I am never sure how my final image will look, I usually try to get my image as sharp as I can. On a stamped layer above, Topaz Impression preset (SJ Painterly Impressionistic) was added as discussed above. Then another stamped layer and the second Topaz Impression preset (SJ Painterly Imp Mod) was applied with the black layer mask. Just painted back what I wanted with my SJ Past 3-painting texture adder brush. Curves, Selective Color and Color Balance Adjustment Layers were added. Then on a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and a preset taken from an image processed previously was used or I would give you the settings. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add a little structure to the focal point. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to tone down the dark areas.

Image 3: There was not as much to do with this image as Snap Art added a lot of the effect I actually wanted in the image. Next ReStyle was added using the Saturation Station preset. Two separate layers were added where Kyle’s Spatter Brushes – Spatter Bot B (75% layer opacity) and Aaron Nace’s Glitter Brush (12% layer opacity – info for making this brush can be found at end of my Some Christmas Cheer and Resources blog) for a little more miscellaneous water being thrown around. Nik Viveza 2 was used to give a little bit of a darkened vignette feel around the edges of the image. The last step was a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with Master set to Saturation -76 to try and soften the big dark blue splotches in the trees. The layer mask was filled with black and just the splotches were painted back with a white brush where the blue was.


Image of a historic building's balcony in St. Augustine, FloridaThought this week I would just do a quick blog on this rather older and overlooked feature in Photoshop that can really give your images a pretty decent painterly feel. Even I overlooked it and have not blogged much on this before. There is a lot more to this little jewel than I thought at first. The above image is of a historic balcony on St. Georges Street in the historic district of St. Augustine.

There are just a couple important things you need be know before you start painting away. One – your image needs to be in 8-bit mode (check this out by going to Image -> Mode -> 8-bit) or it will not work, and two – need to start by making a new Snapshot of your image by going to the History Panel. In the pop-out on top right corner of panel, select New Snapshot – when the dialog opens up, in drop-down do not choose Full Document, but Merged Layers. Now you can select that snapshot and you should be able to paint either directly on the image, or on a layer above. I recommend you watch Julieanne Kost, the Adobe Photoshop guru, short video called Secrets of the Art History Brush that goes over all the brush settings and how to really make your images just stand out.

So where do you find the Art History brushes? Photoshop only supplies one default Art History Tool preset (click on the far left arrow next to the tool icon in the Options Bar to see loaded choices). There are other Art History brush presets provided by PS, but you need to click on the Wheel at the top right of the Tools Panel and select Load. By default you should see several other tool choices (Tool Presets include different brushes and others tool presets) so select the Art History Brushes – 10 more Art History brushes should now appear in the Tools panel that can be used.  Also, Jack Davis, possibly my favorite Photoshop guru (I have blogged about his PS painting techniques often), offers 20 Art History brushes that are from 2002, but work just fine in the current PS versions. You can download them by going to Jack Davis Wow Facebook page and clicking on the More tab – then Freebies. There is a One-Click Wow Photoshop Presets Mini Sampler that can be downloaded. It is not really that hard to make your own brushes by first selecting the Art History Brush (which resides with the History Brush) and then selecting a brush from the Brush Preset Panel. Now by changing the settings in the Options Bar, you can get many different effects. Check out the Style field in the Options Bar to get a lot of choices.

To create the image above, the Background layer was opened in Topaz (see sidebar in my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression where a watercolor effect preset was applied. Then a snapshot of the layer was created and the paintbrush was set next to this snapshot in the History Panel. A Pattern Fill Layer using a canvas type pattern was added above the Background layer set to a low layer opacity to see through to paint to get some background texture. It was increased layer when done painting. A Solid Fill layer could just as easily be used. On a New Layer on top the Artist Brush was used to paint over the image. Since the whole layer was not painted, you get a mix of the original Topaz Impression effect and the Art History brush strokes. I also used a chalk brush as an Art History brush to paint in some of the edges on another New Layer. On another separate layer, a scatter watercolor regular brush was used to add some more texture interest in the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was needed on top to add some of the contrast back into the image but that was about all there was to it.

Image of a Flower Cart at SeaWorld OrlandoThe flower cart image from SeaWorld Orlando was used to create this image. This time I painted just the cart over a white Solid Fill Adjustment Layer using PS’s Oil Sketch Art History Brush. When finished painting, one of my Corel Painter textures was added over the Fill Layer before applying Alien Skin’s Snap Art’s Autumn Abstract preset to a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer. Another Snapshot was created by going to the pop-out and selecting New and Merged Layers. With the Art History brush set to the right edge of this new Snapshot in the History Panel, a New Layer was created and PS’s Butterfly Madness Art History brush was used to pop up the flowers a little and some of the edges – that is the scattered edge effect you see. That was about all that was done, but by combining with some of the other PS plug-ins, the Art History brushes can give some pretty nice results!

The images I created are pretty basic. I think with a little more experimentation better results can be obtained. This is a really an easy process and there is a lot of flexibility after trying it out and seeing what you can do with it. You can use any number of snapshots with different effects on them – like adding contrast or changing colors, etc. The basic limitation is that once you close out of the document, you lose all your snapshots and you will have to reconstruct them if you want to work on the image some more. On the other hand, it does not take too long to get a pretty nice result. Definitely worth playing with and combining with other painting techniques. I was really surprised how it worked so well with Topaz Impression. Well that’s it for this week. Have a good one!…..Digital Lady Syd

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