A few weeks ago Photoshop Guru Sam Peterson did another two weeks of challenges on the Adobe Creative Cloud website. I have done several of his challenges before, and it is always fun to try out new things following his new videos. Therefore, thought I would show what kind of things were presented in his short, but informative, videos last month. Sam always provides starter files to use for practicing and usually a timeline is added in the YouTube description showing what Photoshop skills were used.
The video covering the fairy image is called Caricatures for Beginners – Photoshop Illustration Challenge. The above fairy was created by first downloading this image from Pixabay (Jerzy Gorecki portraits are the best). In PS the model was selected and put on her own layer before taking the layer into Topaz Studio 2 or just Topaz Impression could have been used (Type 09 brush, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.47, Paint Opacity 1.00, Stroke Color Variation 0.50) for the skin effect – a layer mask was used to paint it off her face a little. The Stroke Color Variation slider created the skin markings. Obviously Liquify layers were used for the eyes. Also a FaerieWings ii4 Falln Stock on Deviant Art brush was used. Fantasy Light Dirt 2-Large Glitter with spacing set to 126%, Opacity 52%, and Flow 62% was used for the fairy dust. The background was just painted using his brush (he tells you about it) and Fantasy Light Dirt 2-Flair 1 was used to create the fog look at the bottom. This was my favorite effect I did.
The above is a really nice effect and can be used on any image. What is really nice is that Sam teaches you how to make an action so it can be applied very quickly since several PS filters are used to get the effect. Some of Kyle T. Webster, the Adobe brush guru, watercolor brushes were used to finalize the effect. The photo is by Annie Spratt at Unsplash. The effect is pretty easy video to follow – it is called Watercolor Effect – Photoshop Illustration Challenge. I actually ran it on the baby image from last week and it turned out really nice.
The typography look is another effect that was pretty easy to do – the video is called Text Portrait – Photoshop Typography Challenge. It basically creates a lot of different text layers that are rasterized and merged together to get the final effect. It is done several times and is a creative way to add text to an image. The image is from Pixabay (unable to find a link). A different font was used from the one that Sam preferred – this one is called Naive Deco Sans. The larger text was placed behind the player at 30% layer opacity while the smaller text was laid on top at 91% layer opacity. The background is called Texture Time Music Layer Mask by Evelyn Flint from 2013 (not sure how to find it now) and was set to black and white already.
This video seemed to be the hardest for me – getting an image I liked and then making it look like it was popping off the page was not easy. Still it was a lot of fun to do. The video is called Illustrated Composite Effect – Photoshop Compositing Challenge. It took a while longer to do as there were a lot of steps in the technique. The starter file set has this nice notebook that can be used as a platform for the effect, but I had to mask out the wiring so the wood background could be changed. The image of the model is from Dollar Gill at Unsplash.
Adobe Create Cloud provides several PS experts that create Masterclasses and challenges – there is always something that catches my eye each week. I did not do all of Sam’s challenges this time as there were a few I was not interested in doing. It is fun to try out different techniques when you have a few minutes and Sam’s videos are only about 25 minutes long. In the Related References, there are a few of my blogs that used some of his previous challenges. Let me know if these were fun for you……Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd’s Related Blogs:
This week I happened upon a really excellent video by Mark Denney called How to Embrace Minimalism for Improved Landscape Photos so I thought I would see if I had a few images that would qualify. It was fun to try a different technique using some of my older shots. Apparently a lot of minimized images are black and white due to color issues. So here are my first attempts at minimizing my images.
Mark says the major areas to be concerned about when doing a minimal landscape are Obvious Subject, Expansive Composition (negative space), Minimizing Color, Light and Shadows, and Keep It Simple. He has lots of great examples in his short video to show how to do this. I believe the image above of Green Turtle Cay, one of my favorite places that is in the Bahamas, fits most of these criteria. (Here is a great short video of how Green Turtle Cay and the little town of New Plymouth looked after Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian came through – amazingly good considering!) The image is very dark, but does have great highlights. There is not much in the image to see, but the little shoreline and small pier in the distance serves as fairly Obvious Subjects. The color palette is very limited and there is quite a bit of negative space in the foreground. What I like is that it creates an image that is very different from my normal way of looking at landscapes. (See Image 1 descriptions below for more details and links on how this image was finished.)
The above image is another one from the Bahamas – a little lonely island near Green Turtle Cay. This area is a great place to get minimalist type images as it is very flat with these gorgeous skies. This image has an obvious subject, lots of negative space, minimal color palette, and some great highlights and shadows. I think it meets the criteria. In this case it does not need a black and white treatment as it does not have a lot of colors that distracts from the subject. (For more info, check out Image 2 below in descriptions.)
Another example of a simple minimalist landscape. The original image was created from 5 raw files in Lightroom using the Photo Merge command which creates a DNG file. It was then opened in Photoshop. (For more post details, check out Image 3 description below.) The subject definitely is a strong one in this image. Quite a bit of negative space, minimal color and with highlights and shadows. Very desolate looking but I like the image – the beach was very bare looking.
Hope you enjoyed the blog and will try out creating a minimalist landscape. I am going to photograph some local places using this effect and getting some more practice – I think it is really an interesting technique. Hope you have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: The original image of Turtle Cay in the Bahamas was a very colorful one with lots of blues and turquoise colors. I decided to turn it into an infrared effect by using a really old preset (still works great) in Lightroom called GA B&W Infrared 01. Then several adjustments were made in both the Basic and B&W Panel to get the correct balance for the effect wanted. The image was taken into Photoshop and a Spotlight Effect layer was added to mainly the beach edges. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Nathan Black Atmosphere preset from the wonderful PS guru Glyn Dewis and set to 32% layer opacity. (I am having trouble tracking down this LUT but it may be in his Creativity Tool Kit downloadable from his website.) The Blur Gallery’s Field Blur was set to 33 px and added on a stamped layer to soften down the whole image – then a layer mask was added and the Gradient Tool was used so only the foreground received the softening effect from the blur. On two new layers above, a fog brush was used ,one with white color and one with black, to further soften the foreground and were set to very low opacities. Another new layer was added on top and the Blur Tool set to 100% Strength and used to paint over the objects on the right to further soften their effect. To get the soft blue tones, another Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used and set to the PS Horror Blue preset at 20% opacity. That was the last step.
Image 2: Basically nothing was done in Lightroom except some cropping. The image was taken into Photoshop to do the rest of the post work. This image turned out to be mainly a Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) image. The original layer was duplicated and the top layer was opened into Topaz Studio 2. Topaz Adjust AI filter was then opened and set to Standard at 1.00; Brightness Exposure -0.06, Contrast -0.31, Shadow -0.41 and White -0.09; and Split Tone Highlight Sat 0.49, Highlight Hue 0.15, Shadow Sat 0.37, Shadow Hue 0.65, and Balance 0.33. Next the Impression filter was set to the Default and a mask was created and set to Transparency 0.71. Painted a little paint off the palm trees, then clicked on the Adjust icon – on the Density slider, set the mask to 0.27 so just a bit of the effect was apparent. Went back to the Brush and set it to 0.33 Transparency and painted back a little more definition to the palm trees. Lots of little tweaks here. The Dehaze Filter was set to Strength 0.72, and yet another Impression Filter, this time using Stroke Type 07 with the Texture set to Original – and in the layer mask painted back the island and in Adjust set Contrast to 1.44 and Density 0.36. Set Filter Opacity to 0.65. I am giving you all the settings so you can how much tweaking can be done to get just the look you want with all these filters – kudos to Topaz for this! Next on a stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was added – used the Snow Flight preset with several changes. (ReStyle: 32% opacity, Sat Primary 0.38, Secondary -0.58, Third -0.61 and Fifth 0.34; and Lum Primary -0.14, Secondary -0.56, Third -0.11 and Fifth -0.23; and Basic Color Temperature -0.23, Tint 0.19, and Sat -0.22; Tone Black Level -0.08, Midtones -0.03, and White Level -0.22 and Detail Structure -0.28 and Sharpness -0.05.) After viewing another excellent video called Advanced Color Toning in Photoshop by Blake Rudis, a Gradient Map called Blake Rudis gray gradient 19 set to Soft Light at 62% layer opacity was selected. (Do download his free gradients if you use the Gradient Filter at all!) Next added a group of adjustment layers created from a video (Trick the Photo Filter to Add Drama & Color in Photoshop) by Unmesh Dinda and changed several of the settings to fit this image – then setting the group to 89% layer opacity. On a couple new layers some painting was done to smooth out the colors a little. Added a Color Balance Adjustment Layer to remove just a little bit of Magenta in the sky in the Shadows and Highlights. Next Topaz Lens Effects was opened and the Fog Filter was used with these settings: Fog Adjustments Amount 0.43, Region Size 0.38, Transition 0.21, Angle 180.0, and Diffusion 0.55. That was it.
Image 3: This image was created from 5 raw files in Lightroom. They were combined into an HDR using the Photo Merge -> HDR command which created an HDR .dng image. This was brought into Photoshop and on a duplicate layer, Luminar Flex was opened. This is where the image was converted into a black and white image using the B&W Conversion filter. Also a small amount of Dehaze, Image Radiance, Top & Bottom Lighting, and Whites/Blacks filter were used. A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was opened and an S-curve created. The Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was set to Edgy Amber and 66% layer opacity. A Levels Adjustment Layer vignette was created. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to lighten up the right top area – black mask added with just the area needed painted back. Most of these techniques are in other blogs of mine.
This week was spent mainly sharpening up my “digital painting” skills. This Lion image taken at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC, just seemed to be the right type for this process as his background was up against a rather rocky fence. That is one thing to look for when choosing a subject to paint – what the background is and does it help or hurt the subject. This is not unlike adding a texture to an image to remove an ugly background. But in this case, the lion had such a wonderful furry head, he was perfect for doing a little digital work.
If you are new to digital painting and Mixer brushes, which are a main part of painting in PS, check out a couple videos by PS guru Jesus Ramirez. The first is less than two minutes long showing how to make a very basic brush (which worked pretty well for me) and is called Oil Painting Effect From Your Photos – Photoshop Mixer Brush Technique. The second is longer Photoshop Daily Creative Challenge – Mixer Brush from Adobe Creative Cloud (skip to the 9 minute mark for the tutorial). These two videos show how to get a really quick digital painting by just learning to use a Mixer Brush and make a few changes in the settings. And the results are much better than just using the Oil Paint Filter in PS.
I have been experimenting with painting on a layer(s) above using regular and mixer brushes, then going back to the original image layer and duplicating it. Next going into Topaz Impression via Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio or Topaz Labs, and applying the Impression filter. (For this image, used default settings and changed: Stroke to 07, Stroke Width -0.24, and Texture set to Background Type Original – had to do a little smoothing in PS to remove stroke edges.) Back in PS the top layer(s) are still your original digital painting strokes with the Impression layer underneath – this gives a nice undercoating to continue painting over. The Mixer Brushes will now begin picking up some color from the Impression layer. Create more layers using different brushes to get a really nice painted image that will show off your own style.
The lion image took several hours to complete, lots of layers, and 7 iterations before the best look was achieved. It has been my experience that digital painting takes quite a while to get a good look, especially if there are a lot of details in the image. You may want to keep it in but be sure to soften it down.
2019 Summer Brushes
Also as a side note, I just downloaded Kyle T. Webster’s 2019 Summer Brushes – to download, open pop out menu in the upper right corner of the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes. (if you are not logged into the Cloud, you will need to log in at this point.) Kyle’s website opened up where the new brushes shown at the top of the page. Kyle says “Find your perfect summer color with brushes that take advantage of Photoshop’s unique color mixing effects. Also included in this set: A tribute brush to the great Ben Shahn, an updated China Marker, and great new pattern brushes.” There are 23 new brushes, 3 of them Mixers. I am looking forward to giving them a test run!
Hope you get a chance to check out those two videos and try out some digital painting. It is a lot of fun!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter
Can You Get a Painting Look With a Photoshop Action? Jack Davis Can!
This week I have been playing around with the update Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Studio 2. (Last week I did a review of the of it – check out my What About This Topaz Studio 2 Update? Not Bad! blog and video.) I imagine that everyone has noticed several small updates came out this week, each adding a couple more features to the interface. There now is a Navigation Tool on the bottom right toolbar – it is so handy for moving around the image when zoomed way in. A Crop/Rotate/Straighten tool has also been added – probably will not use this a lot but sometimes when an image is crooked, it is nice to have. Your own textures can now be added into the Texture filter as in Topaz Studio 1. I am really looking forward to being able to add another layer as an image (like the Image Layer filter in the original) – I miss not having this feature. But all in all Topaz has been working hard to get this updated software running smoothly.
A Little about Brushes
The Water Lily image, taken at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, is an example of using the wonderful Impression filter that comes with Topaz Studio 2. For me it works great as either a nice painterly background for regular portraits or animal images or as a painting starting point as used in the Lily look. For this image Impression’s default settings were applied except the Type 06 Brush Stroke was used. Back in PS, on separate layers, Blender Mixer Brushes and my SJ Pastel 3 regular painting brush were used to add color and smooth out the strokes. (To create this brush, check out my How to Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-up blog – in the middle are the settings.) Even though they have been around for a while, Fay Sirkis mixers are some of the best – only place I can find to download them is from her Kelby One painting courses and they are worth it.
Obviously Kyle Webster provides a huge amount of choices for painting. The PS Legacy brushes are also still available and have a lot of good mixer brushes. The Fan Flat Blender Mixer brush, located by clicking the Brushes Panel pop-out in top right and select Converted Legacy Tool Presets (when dialog appears asking to “Restore the Converted…”, say OK to add set to the brush list) is a great brush and several variations can easily be made in the Brush Settings Panel (like changing the Brush Angle and Size, adding Shape Dynamics, and adjusting Texture settings).
I also love GrutBrushes – his cloud brushes are just the best available and his InkyLeaks splatter set is really good also (check out his free sampler of brushes and his free brush of the week each Monday).
My previously presented Toucan image is an example of using an Impression filter, in this case it was the Edward Hopper Look (previously preset) – used a Topaz brush to mask out the eyes and beaks of the birds, but the result of not applying the whole painterly effect to the image can be seen. This to me is one major reason why I have to have Topaz Studio 2 as no other plugin company has anything like Impression in their filters. Back in Photoshop a regular soft small soft round brush was used on a New Layer to really emphasize the eyes more. Most of the time a painting clean up layer needs to be done to fine-tune where a few strokes are off a little.
Turning Any Blender Mixer Brush into a Painting Mixer Brush (or One that Adds Color)
To create some of your own Mixer Brush variations, I have listed a few steps to help you out.
Settings for a Blender Mixer: To blend the colors , in the Options Bar:
- Turn off the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon by clicking on it
- Always leave “Clean the brush after every stroke” clicked on
- Select the Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the drop-down
- Check Sample All Layers
Now you have a pretty nice blending Mixer brush. If some color shows up, you left the “Load” icon turned on.
Settings for a Painting Mixer:
- Turn On the “Load the brush after each stroke” icon (or no color will be painted as the icon will be clear)
- Change the drop down to Dry, Light Load
- ALT+click in your image to sample a color if using one from your image. Note that there is a drop-down by the “Current Brush Load” icon which gives you a choice to “Load Solid Colors Only” instead of a bit of what was under your brush when you clicked
Dab a few times to add your color and then turn off the “Current Brush Load” icon and set back to the Very Wet Heavy Mix to blend some more. This is really handy to know when you are blending away and find that you are missing a color to mix into the background. Since just blending the color back in, it does not have to look that good when you dab. This being said, lots of times I just use a regular brush to add the color in if using the same stroke effect is not that important. Either way works great depending on where the blending is occurring in the image.
That’s it for this week – just thought I would share a little how I paint using Topaz Studio 2 Impression. I like to work this way as Impression gives a nice effect in the background and as much or as little of this effect can be left in the image by using Photoshop brushes. It gives me the creative aspect I want but cuts down on the actual background painting time. Hope this was a helpful blog for those of you wanting to try out painting. Impression is definitely the way to go. And remember, it comes with Topaz Studio 2! Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd
Just doing a quick blog this week – this image from The Land Pavilion at Epcot Center, Disney World-Orlando, just caught my eye this week. This may be my favorite place to see when I visit Epcot – never get tired of all their exhibits. Depending on the time of day, different versions can be seen.
In Lightroom Dave Delnea’s Backlight_Horizontal_Right preset (these appear to be unavailable at this time) was applied. It gave the original lighting effect from the window that was needed to create this image. The Camera Profile was called Crisp Warm Soft (from the LUT file in Photoshop – Matt Kloskowski gave it away). Basic section changes were done and the Graduated Filters were adjusted to fit the image correctly from the preset. Then went into Photoshop to finish up.
The background layer was duplicated and taken into Luminar 2018 (for website link, see my Tidbit Blog sidebar). My favorite Joel Grimes Indian Summer preset was applied on the bottom layer. (To download his free presets from Luminar, open the stand-alone version, click on More Presets button which opens up Microsoft Edge in Windows, choose Presets and scroll down to his Pro Photographer and Artist Presets-Joel Grimes. There are several free and inexpensive categories here. To load them in the program, go to File -> Load Custom Presets Pack – they will then show up as one of the Categories that can be selected. Joel gives us 6 presets and they are all great!) Then the Sunray Filter was added to Layer 0 – just played with the light until something looked good. Back in Photoshop, Shadowhouse Creations Dust Particle brushes were loaded and some light and dark dust was sprinkled around in the Luminar sunrays to get a reflected light effect. The last steps involved my normal workflow: added a spotlight effect on the air balloons facing the light, used a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little over-all contrast, and lastly, on a stamped layer applied Nik Viveza 2 to sharpen the air balloons and direct the focus to them.
This image is a view taken from the other side of the room on a different day and time. You can see the air-balloons much better. Used another preset by Dave Delnea called Highlight Warming Look 3 and a few Basic slider adjustments in Lightroom. Then in Photoshop the Background layer was duplicated and Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbit Blog sidebar) ReStyle was opened. The Tangerine Gauze preset was used and set to Multiply blend mode at 50% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for some contrast. Then Nik Viveza 2 was opened on a stamped layer to adjust the focal point just a little. That was it – I loved the detail that can be seen in this version.
Below is an older image previously posted to Flickr before I was blogging that is still different. It appears a Lucis Pro effect was added, an Ash bright green Texture 8 (which is not available anymore – it was my first set of textures I ever bought) set to Overlay blend mode, and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Pretty basic but it has a nice feel to it.
And here is a link to a blog where Topaz Impression was used on the image called Hot Air Balloons the Disney Way. Wish I could go to Disney and Epcot all the time – it is a perfect place to get gorgeous pictures. It is always fun to see the beautiful hanging air balloons throughout the years – I hope they do not change them. And The Land Pavilion has several exhibits that are always fun to photograph. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
I find Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Labs and/or Topaz Studio is totally in a “league of its own” when it comes to helping digital artists take their images to a new level. Even though I have blogged about Topaz plugins and most recently Studio’s AI Remix adjustment (see What is Topaz AI Remix????), this week I am presenting a short blog and video on how I created this image using some of the Topaz Studio’s and Lab’s plugins.
The products that really are outstanding to me for creativity are: Topaz Studio AI ReMix adjustment, Topaz Studio (and previously Labs) Impression, Topaz Labs ReStyle, and, believe it or not, this wonderful little program no longer marketed called photoFXlab which uses an InstaTone program section (the 500 px and 1X.com do not work, but the other three do so it works just fine) (See my short InstaTone in photoFXlabs – Great Fun and Great Results! blog). This is not to say that many of their other plugins, like Topaz Adjust, Black & White Effects, Glow, and Texture Effects are not useful for the creative – they are great but maybe not as unique as the ones I mentioned.
AI ReMix adjustment fits right into what I like about Topaz products. It has a bit of a steep learning curve to figure out what works and what does not when trying to get that creative uncanned look. That is why I decided to do this quick blog and video. The original image was beautiful and is from a group of photos at Deeezy called 20 Free Photos from Seychelles – I like to practice with some of these free images. I did not realize I would like the results but since it has an interesting artistic appearance applied, it does not matter that I did not use my own equipment for the image. Wish I had been there to do so. If you do not see the You Tube link in your browser, please open the video from within the blog.
Steps for Post-Processing the Top Image
Once opened in Photoshop, the image was duplicated and taken into Topaz Studio where two adjustments were used: the Impression Adjustment (used Default settings but set it to Stroke Type 09) and AI ReMix (used my SJ Soft Painterly Effect in Preset dropdown and adjustment 0.27 opacity – the SJ Soft Painterly Effect has these settings: Opacity 0.27, Style Strength Low, Col 7/Row 3 swatch, Brightness 0.53, Contrast 1.17, Saturation 0.98, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 1.00 and Sharpness 0.50). Back in Photoshop, many tweaks were made since the adjustments had added a great creative starting point. I will not go through all the steps – they were quickly reviewed in the video – but it did take a bit of work to get the image to a place that worked for me. Nik Viveza 2 was used to help direct focus and there was a spotlight effect layer. John Derry’s Impasto Varnish Smooth layer style (no longer available-Kyle Webster had some also but I cannot find them either – try searching for Photoshop Impasto layer styles. Basically what is going is that a Bevel and Emboss layer style is added and the Layer Fill slider is set to 0 – preferably use a brush with some interesting edges to paint add the painterly effect on the layer). Used my SJ Pastel 3 favorite brush to paint over a few waves and rock edges to add some additional definition. Then a texture called Solstice Elan2 from French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) was added – the same layer style was used on the texture set to 22% layer opacity to soften the whole foreground effect. Then added a frame I created in Corel Painter was added for a final more painterly touch.
Steps for Post-Processing this Image
Same steps were as above with the same Topaz Studio Impression and AI ReMix adjustment settings and clean up layers. To get this different effect, a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was taken into Topaz ReStyle and I used my SJ Tulips preset with changes to some of the sliders. This preset was created from a tulip image previously processed in ReStyle (see my How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image blog). You can actually get a very similar effect as the ReStyle filter gives when photoFXlab Instatone is opened and applied. Nik Viveza 2 was also used and Curves Dodge and Burn adjustment layers were also used. A little clean up and spotlight effect was applied but no impasto layer styles.
One thing noticed was that by applying so much post-processing to an image that was not as high a quality as a RAW file, some artifacting became apparent. On the cooler image below, I rather meticulously painted away the artifacting in the foreground mountain and rock formations mainly using a very tiny (3-9 pixel) brush at 50% strength – this took several hours and could probably use more. On the top image, I got smarter. It occurred to me to just use the Spot Healing Brush set to: Content Aware, Multiply, and Sample All layers using a small brush around 7 pixels. Just smeared long strokes over the areas – only the white artifacting was healed (colored in), but the color in the darker areas was left alone. It took about 10 minutes instead of several hours. Wish I had thought of it earlier before hand painting and healing the first image.
Anyway, I thought it might be fun for you to see how these creative plug-ins can be used together. Below are a couple recent blogs you might have missed on my Tidbits Blog showing some other image examples. Hope everyone is enjoying the Spring – looks like the weather is starting to improve finally!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Enjoying the Attention (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Stand Tall (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment and Impression Adjustment)
Dodging the Fire (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
A Scottish Countryside Town (Studio AI ReMix Adjustment)
Four Picture Triptych with Topaz ReStyle (Topaz Labs ReStyle)
Heathcliff in Toon Lagoon (photoFXLab InstaTone)
I don’t know where everyone else is, but I am getting so totally confused about all the new software-plugin releases that have come out in recent days/weeks. I was hooked on plugins since I bought Nik Viveza at Christmas of 2009. I remember being nervous about paying so much for it, but loved it right from the beginning (and now it is free!!!). Over the years I have become totally immersed in what can be done with all the plugins available – and wish I could afford to get them all (sigh). So in this wordy blog I will try to sort this out.
As a quick example, let’s talk about Viveza 2 again. I downloaded the first beta version of Lightroom and never looked back. Lots of people said Nik Viveza was just a copy of what Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) could do for an image. Yes, it did similar things, but still was a lot different in my mind. Flash forward and I still use Viveza on nearly every post-processed photo even though we now have the somewhat similar Camera Raw Filter available in Photoshop. The point here is that yes, there is a lot of overlap between most of these programs, and yes, they do things just different enough that they all present some benefits to your post-processing workflow. It is really just personal taste in how you want to adjust your images.
So here we are now with not one, not two, but three really good updated software programs (not to mention several other newer ones on the scene) that can process Camera Raw images and do pretty much everything Lightroom/ACR does. They are now all stand-alone programs or plugins for Photoshop layers. For website links to all three programs, check out my Tidbits Blog sidebar. Using the same image of Edinburgh Castle, the top one used Luminar 2018 for Windows, and below used On1 Raw 2018 and Topaz Studio. I tried to use a fairly similar workflow doing the basic Raw editing first and then adding in filter effects. So here is my take on where we are now.
All three of the above programs are really good – I am not going to bash any of them as they all do things I totally love. Do they overlap in what they do? Somewhat, but each has a few things I wish they all could do. Of course that is what sets them apart and why it is so hard to decide which one(s) to get.
To figure out which one would fit your workflow, you need to answer a pretty simple question: What do you want to do with your image or several of your future images? Where is your interest going – do you want to go more into an artistic feel or are you just trying to get the most realistic images for your profession or travel experiences? Since I do not have a professional studio or take wedding or senior photos often, I am more inclined to really stretch what the plugins will do to give an artistic feel to an image. Now I do understand that having a few quick tricks up your sleeve for clients to give them a choice of a few really artistic images is nice to have so using special effect plugins is just fine for that.
- Topaz Studio
First, the Topaz Studio is a free download and contains several adjustments to get your started. Your older Topaz Labs filters can be accessed in this interface so you will always have access to them. You can’t go wrong with Topaz Studio’s Impression or one of their other creative Labs programs like Topaz ReStyle or Topaz Texture Effects for the really artistic effects. Impression has given Topaz the one-up on the other programs for the artistic effects and I am sure you have read lots about it – it is one of my favorite plugins. And I have to mention this little slider that lets you stop the painting action wherever you want – great addition to the updated filter. Topaz has done a terrific job with their masking effects tools and the different masking tools work really smoothly. The biggest down side is that even though Topaz Studio platform is free, to get it to work well you need to buy their Pro Pack. Therefore it brings it in line with the other two programs as far as cost goes. The Impression filter (or Clarity, Detail, or Simplify) needs to be bought individually to add into the Studio interface. If you already own Topaz Impression (or the other filters) as a Topaz Labs filter, you are entitled to a free upgrade for Studio (forever is their policy – once a filter is bought it is upgraded for free). And please do update to the newer Topaz Studio Impression filter – it is much better than the older Impression 2. If you own many Topaz filters, they will all eventually be added into the Studio interface. I am not going to say the program does not have its problems, but I do know enough by working with them that their final product will be very good. They have a Basic Adjustment that is not as complete as the others, but with the addition of the Clarity and Detail plug-ins, and several color adjustments choices, it is fine. In the image below, just a little more work on the clouds and some color reduction would really help and can be easily fixed in the program.
- On1 Photo Raw 2018
Photo Raw is now a really good challenger to Lightroom and is definitely worth checking out if you do lots of photo shoots. I have always liked On1 but it was very computer processor intensive. Their Browse Module is now lightening fast – it makes LR look really slow. I was stunned at how fast it all happens and it appears to be picking up my keywords from LR – that was even more amazing! And my computer hardly even cared. Once an image is chosen, go into their Develop Module which sets you up with the needed filters and is very similar to LR. Besides Shadow and Highlight sliders, there is a Midtone slider which I really like. There are other similar sliders to LR and includes a Detail section and Lens Correction section. Then it is time to go into the Effects Module where they provide lots of presets and individual filter choices. A very popular filter is called Dynamic Contrast – very similar to Detail in Topaz. Also the Glow filter is to be very popular. When masking, they do have a lot of choices (including a new Chisel Brush and Blur Brush) but I found it a little harder to use than in Topaz or LR. The filter settings can be somewhat hidden which includes the blending options, and Highlight, Midtone, and Shadow sliders so the filter is only applied to certain areas if wanted. My biggest problem with On1 is the high learning curve. I believe it is a fantastic program and technically is going to keep Adobe on their toes. But it does take time to watch the videos to understand where everything is in the interface and what all the different filters will do. I can honestly say that On1 is totally improved from previous versions and I plan on using it a lot more. In the image below, the cloud color is just not quite right to me but the foreground sharpness is incredible! The clouds can be fixed easily in the program.
- Luminar 2018
And now to Luminar 2018 – new entry for me into the field since I am a Windows person and this was for Mac previously. The image at the top of the blog is the Luminar example – loved the cloud effect especially and the Golden Hour filter on the front of the buildings. There are other parts I love and parts I hate it! Okay – if they would have updated it to match their Mac counterpart for us Windows users, I would love it. After watching several videos just to find out all the sliders are not there, it is a bit frustrating. I also find that the Masking Tools are harder to use than with the other programs. The Mac version has several grouped filters for different types of effects – for Raw images an Essentials group was created which contains Tone, Accent AI, Color Temp, and Polarizing Filters. In Windows there are Filters Catalog but the Essentials is not the same group. This is definitely confusing. (Thank you Serge Ramelli for the video showing this filter set up – see Luminar 2018 vs Lightroom Classic?) But I love their filters and they seem to give a slightly different feel to an image – the Sun Ray filter, the Golden House filter, an Accent AI filter – and many others. Of the 3 image results shown, I liked the results from Luminar the best. I am under the assumption Luminar will be catching up the Windows version soon so it will work just like the Mac users interface. When that occurs, I will blog on this so everyone knows.
- Bottom Line
I do love all these programs – have used Topaz and On1 for years – in fact my second favorite plugin from years ago was On1’s Photo Frame 4.6 – the best framing plug-in ever and I was totally upset when they discontinued it. BTW they do still have some framing options, but it is not quite the same – will blog on this soon. All three of my images are not that different – just some personal preferences there. And this was basically just using the Raw processors – each program has decidedly different strengths which are not showcased in these examples. A recent post by Photoshop Guru Matt Kloskowski called Is There a Lightroom Replacement explains in more detail about the browser and Raw converter issues – a good read. And check out my Related Blogs below for some other examples of what these programs can do.
As you can see things are changing as we come into a faster and more efficient software era. We have to say good-bye to some of the ways we used to post-process and attempt to figure out what to do with all the “Raw Converters!” – and what do we need from a filter program. I think so much of what you choose has to be based on just trying out the software now and seeing what works. Like I said, I am pleased, I am frustrated, and I am amazed at some of the filters I am now seeing. All three of these plug-ins are seasoned software companies and know what they are doing. Apparently Nik has been bought from Google recently by DxO and will be coming out this Spring with some updates. So there will be a new-old kid in town to really spice things up. Will I use their Raw converters for my work? Probably not so much – still a LR person at this point. Will I use their Special Effects filters? Totally!!! Hope this helped a little if you are as confused as me. I will continue updating you on all the new things coming out with these plug-ins but in the meantime, just try them out. It is amazing what some of the new filters are doing and it may fit just what you need for creating a new type of post-processing effect. In the meantime, Happy Black Friday if you are in the US and good luck finding some great PS finds!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Macphun Luminar 2018 Sun Rays at a Glance
Now Available – Free Beta Version of Macphun’s Luminar for Windows
Introducing the Free Topaz Studio
Updated Impression Now in Topaz Studio
Updated Clarity Now in Topaz Studio
How to Add a Simple Glow Effect to Your Image
A Beautiful View
My Favorite Photo Frame Plug-In – OnOne PhotoFrames (hum!) – just a little nostalgia here
Just another quick post to pass on a pretty nifty short tutorial that Chris Spooner at Spoon Graphics posted this week. It is called How to Create a Water Painting Effect in Photoshop and it was pretty easy to follow. I have tried it out on a couple different images using different paper, painting brushes, and a few different filters after applying the ones he suggested. Since a Smart Object is created to get the base effect, images can be swapped out without changing the rest of the set up or border once created.
This image is one I took from Stirling Castle in Scotland. After applying the filters and adding a layer mask, a border was created using the McBad Brush 30 that Chris links to in his post for creating the watercolor effect border. In the Brush Panel, try changing the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of the brush to something pretty high like 70% to get some nice edge work on the border. For this image, a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer (with the Paper border layer turned off) was created on top of the layers but underneath the border paper. Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression 2’s Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset was applied and set to, of all things, Division blend mode at 0.50 opacity. It gave the image more of an overall watercolor effect. I think many of the Impression presets would work well with this technique. A New Layer was added and using Grut I Dusty Covet Brush, lines around the tops of the buildings were sketched in to add a bit of realism and definition to the roofs – then lowered the layer opacity to 80%. On another stamped layer (with the paper layer off) Topaz ReStyle was applied – this time I had a preset created a while ago, but there were probably 20 presets that looked good on it. It seemed to even out the colors that in the final image. To give the image a real watercolor look, Grut’s W Mud Puddle Watercolor Brush was used to extend out the edges of the image into the border with strokes and paint in some solid roof colors and tree areas. As a side note, Nicolai at GrutBrushes has some really good things going at his brush site: a free brush every week (I definitely take advantage of this as different media brushes are presented), a free Photoshop Brushes Sampler with lots of nice brushes and a free Watercolor Brush called Cherry Pectin that is also in the sampler. The Cherry Pectin brush would have worked great for painting border edges also. I think this made a huge difference from the slightly canned look the original tutorial supplied. The image was way too vivid for my taste as a watercolor, so a New Layer was filled with white above and set to 16% layer opacity to calm it down a bit. The last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the orange buildings in the lower left corner and the painted bridge.
Well, still taking it easy but wanted to share – hope you get a chance to try out this technique. Chris Spooner has several nice tutorials on his site you might also like. Later…..Digital Lady Syd
This 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This 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
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
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.
I 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.
There 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.
Unfortunately 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.
Above 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.
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 scrapbookgraphics.com; 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.
This 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
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.
Now 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.
It 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
So 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 GrutBrushes.com 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.
This 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.
This 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.
Thought 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.
The 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
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Use the Smudge Tool
This week I decided to try to find a replacement for the Oil Paint Filter effect that Photoshop CS6 and CC used and everyone liked so much. It was removed from Photoshop CC2014 and CC2015. I did not use it that much, but sometimes it was nice to use. I ran across a little free plug-in that gives a similar result as the Oil Painter filter and many people seem to be liking it. Also I created a Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression preset that also gives a similar effect.
The image above shows the results of using the plug-in called GREYCstoration that is a free download for WINDOWS users and Photoshop CC2014/2015 only (I downloaded by clicking on this link and scrolling down to Petopeto 2nd entry from almost two years ago-use the top link in entry). Copy the Greyc-helper.bin and Greyc-x64.8bf into the c:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 or 2014\Plug-ins\ folder. I did not put any of the other files in the downloaded folder, just those two. Now here is the kicker – to find the plug-in, you must look under Filter -> Noise -> GREYCstoration. (Note: sometimes I get an error so just say try again and it usually comes up anyway.) The effect does not appear to be as strong as the Oil Painter Filter, so I found that by applying it several times, the result was better. If you go to the link above you will find the default settings for this filter and a blogger’s settings that he likes. I used some even stronger settings to get the effect on the photos above and below. (Strength 999, Contour 0.0, Anisotropy 1, Noise Scale 0.1, Geometry Regularity 2, Initial gaussian blur o, Iterations 1, Gfact 1, Spatial step 0.8, Angular step 30, Gauss precision 2, Interpolation nearest, Stage display Normal, Threads Auto, and checked all three – Fast approximation, Alt amplitude, and GPU). The interface is not that great, but you can still see the results when trying different settings, but some of the settings do not appear to work. Also varying the Geometry Regularity gives some very different results. The other value I changed around some was the Contour setting. Below is a Cattle Egret using the same filter twice and settings as above, once on the original image layer and once after my Corel Painter texture was applied.
Topaz Impression Using My SJ Oil Paint Preset
The image above is an example of using a Liquid Lines preset in Topaz Impression to get a similar effect. This used the Liquid Lines III preset with these changes – Paint Opacity +0.35 (lets you see strokes better), Paint Volume +0.35, Stroke Width -0.93 and Stroke Length -0.93; and then the Overall Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders were set to 0 and the Brightness, Contrast and Vignette were all set to 0. This layer was set to 78% as I felt the effect was way too strong. Many of the presets in the Modern category of Impression give some very similar effects.
Photoshop Oil Paint Filter
Here are the images with Photoshop’s Oil Paint Filter applied.
The settings for the PS Oil Paint Filter above are Stylization 7.97, Cleanliness 4.8, Scale 0.84, Bristle Detail 6.9, Angular Direction 180, and Shine 1.5.
Several other plug-ins were used to try and get similar results. Topaz Glow can be adjusted to get some of the Oil Paint effect, but it really does not do as well as Impression. Several other major plug-ins were tried, but as yet, I could not get as good a result as the above two. I will let everyone know if anything better comes up. I do believe that the GREYCstoration is not a bad alternative to the original PS Oil Paint Filter, but it is limited to Windows. Topaz Impression makes a valiant effort and with some further tweaking, an even better preset can probably be produced. Bottom line is that if you have Photoshop CS6 or CC, keep it around if you really want this effect. That is what I am doing. Hope you found this helpful. Have a nice week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Photoshop’s CS6 (and Pixel Bender’s) Oil Paint Filter
Digital Lady Syd Speaks Out on Topaz Impression
This week I am just doing a short blog on plug in that has been around awhile, and one I have not used recently. The plug-in is called Topaz (see website link in sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Lens Effects and it creates a lot of special effects. I was able to get this rather unique look above by painting in Photoshop and using Lens Effects.
The above is just a little pond image created using my favorite Frostbo’s Grass Set2 for Photoshop brushes and Topaz Impression to get this painterly look.
These steps were taken before the plug-in was used. First a basic light blue painted background was created in Corel Painter to use for building up my image. A similar result could have been done using a watercolor wash brush in Photoshop. Then in PS, several of Frostbo’s brushes were used to create the reeds and grass around the water – see blog link below that shows how to tweak his brushes for even some different results. Separate layers were used for each brush type and different colors were used and blended. TIP: If the brush strokes look too sharp, just use a small 4 pixel Smudge Brush set to a Strength of 15% and paint over edges. The plant layers were all grouped. Then the group was duplicated, merged, and flipped upside down to create a slight reflection in the water. On a stamped layer above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Impression’s Ethereal Background by Blake Rudis preset was applied. A B&W Adjustment Layer was added to see where the focal point was going – and it needed to be adjusted. The adjustment was set to Luminosity blend mode at 83% layer opacity since it was used to adjust the focal point. Nik Viveza 2 added a little color to the water in the middle and some to the upper corners where the sky is. I still did not like the colors in the image so Impression was applied to another stamped layer using Swirly Strokes III. In Photoshop a black layer mask was added and just where I wanted more color added was painted back. Below is where the image was at this point, and I thought I really liked it.
But then it seemed like a little directional color needed to be added. So that is when Topaz Lens Effects was opened two filters were applied. The Reflector (set to Golden Type, Strength 0.20, Transition 0.23, Position 0.31, and Angle 306.5) to add just a little warmth in the lower right foreground. The next filter was the Split Prism (Two – Mixing level 0.44, Radius 0.27, Rotation 45.00, Type II, Effect Center (659,349)) which added another smaller version of the painted image into the photo. A layer mask had to be added and edges cleaned up. Also on a New Layer above, some Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush clean up was done. On a New Layer, Frostbo’s Snow Drops brush (just one brush but really great to add in a little snow look) was used to add in some scattered snow, and then the Blur Tool was used to soften them slightly – similar effect to using the Smudge Tool above. I could never think of a good use for Split Prism filter and this image is really a cool way to use it! You can see this made an immense change to the image and I think it definitely added interest into it.
This image is of a Roseate Spoonbill taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. Not sure how I got this crazy landing shot, but it sort of fits the crazy antics these birds do. The texture was one I created in Corel Painter to use with this beautiful bird. The bird image was first painted with Mixer Brushes in Photoshop. The texture layer was added at the bottom of the Layer Panel. Then a black mask was added to the top bird layer and just the bird and part of the tree were painted back so the background showed up. I wanted some colors in the background that blended nicely with the beautiful pink in the bird. Topaz Lens Effects Reflector filter was used to lighten the bird slightly (settings were Type Golden, Strength 0.47, Transition 0.40. Position 0.30, and Angle 271.3). Next another copy of the texture was placed on top and set to Multiply blend mode at 62% layer opacity. Created a stamped layer above (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and opened Lens Effects again and selecting the Fisheye Lens filter set to Distortion Amount 0.25. By placing the effect on the bird, it gives a very comical effect to the image. Back in PS the bird was selected and the Content Aware Move tool was used to move the bird over to the right a little more in the image. Another stamped layer was created and this time the same Fisheye filter effect was centered on the tree to stretch it out some like it was reaching out to the bird. Back in PS a black layer mask was added and just the tree was added back into the image, so now both the bird and tree had exaggerated characteristics. On another stamped layer a Lens Effect’s Single Tone Filter using the Old School Haze II was applied. After that a little PS Camera Raw Filter magic was performed using the Radial Filters to get the bird colors and tree colors just right. There were some adjustments layers and burn layer to finish up, but basically the Lens Effect filters created the colorful result of this image.
So we covered the Topaz Lens Effects’ Reflector Filter, Split Prism Filter, Fisheye Lens Filter, and Single Tone Filter. I actually added the UV Haze Filter on the image above – the paint strokes could be seen really nicely but decided against using it for the final version. There are really nice Lens Motion effect, Streak Filter, a Diffusion Filter, Polarization Filter, Graduated Color Filter, Fog Filter, Toy Camera effect, and Tilt & Shift Camera effect to name a few, all with presets or sliders to make your own presets. There are some serious Bokeh Effects that can be achieved with this plug-in also, but I have not covered this. Check out Topaz Labs website for more info on these.
Well I hope this will give you a little incentive to take another look at the Topaz Lens Effects if you own this plug-in, or download a trial to try out. There are lots of choices and it definitely adds some dimension for the creative post-processing of images. Many of the effects are not contained in other plug-ins, which is one of the reasons I really like the Topaz plug-ins. And it was a lot of fun, and for me that’s what it is all about!…..Digital Lady Syd
This week I just felt like exploring what I could do with landscape images to get a painterly, yet somewhat realist feel. Took this image of the Pacific Ocean at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island in Hawaii – one of those places that is total “eye candy” for the camera! Just a beautiful place to visit!
This image used a lot of Topaz plug-ins. Started with Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity (my TC-John Barclay Basic Settings preset from one of his webinars – HSL-Hue – Blue -0.12; Sat – Red -0.16, Orange 0.13, Aqua 0.19 and Blue 0.11; and Lum Red -0.58, Orange -0.17, Yellow -0.39, and Green -0.19. Tone Level White Level 0.38). This is a nice preset to use for landscape images in Clarity. Next Topaz photoFXlab was opened (not available for use with Photoshop CC2014 and on but is a stand-alone app also) and on a duplicate layer in the plug-in, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was applied first (Softness 0.60, Diffusion 0.60, and Edge Transition 0.50) – in a layer mask used these brush settings: Brush Value 51, Brush Size 0.09, Hardness 0.17, Flow 0.18, and Edge Aware 1.00. Painted around the tree trunk to remove the diffusion effect around it and a little in the front palm leaves. Also painted over the white waves coming in. A stacked layer was created and the Adjustments tab sliders was used (Temp 21 and Sat 8; Contrast -15, Dynamics 22, Sharpness -51, Shadows 28, Whites 38, and Blacks 34). In the Brushes Tab, used Dodge Brush to paint in the distracting plant dark spots in foreground (brush settings were: Strength 0.68, Brush Size 0.25, Hardness 0.17, Flow 0.41, and Edge Aware 0.90). Exited photoFXlab and created a stamped layer on top. Note that all the steps in the photoFXlab filter could have been done in Photoshop using Topaz Lens Effects and adjustments layers and masks. Next a Curves Adjustment Layer and a Selective Color Adjustment Layer were applied to get the contrast and color correct. On a New Layer Aaron Blaise’s Cloud Brushes were used to add some interest into the plain sky. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Glow was opened to get some sharp detail back into the tree leaves. A black layer mask was added and just the trees and surf were painted back on the mask in white. On another stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was added (TRS-White Veil preset – Set ReStyle blend mode to Multiply set to 54%; Basic Tone Black Level 0.36, Midtones 0.11 and White Level -0.45; and Detail Structure 0.41 and Sharpness 0.06). And yes, another stamped layer was created and Topaz Impression was applied using the Watercolor II preset set to Multiply blend mode at 31% layer opacity. On a New Layer above a mixer brush was used to smooth the cloud edges to clean up. And this is the final. image. Lots of Topaz here!
This is a beautiful drive through The Big Island in Hawaii (near Waimea) – I am always surprised at the Island’s terrain and how you can have this little forest in an area that is totally devoid of trees otherwise. That is why you love the Big Island – always something surprising to see with all the different
This image used Trey Radcliff’s Lightroom free preset called A Beautiful Release – he has some really nice presets that I have used for a long time. Topaz Glow was applied using my SJ Inter Web Variation ((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.) It is really hard to see the Glow effect, very subtle, since the layer was set to Soft Light at 51% layer opacity. In a layer mask some of the lines were painted out by setting the brush to Multiply mode, Opacity 47%, and Flow 50%. This way I could adjust the darker tones and blacks yet leave the color alone in the image. It brought out some of the structure in the fences and wires by the road, but did not interfere with the soft lines of the background. On a stamped layer Topaz Impression was applied using their Watercolor IV preset to soften the image. In the layer style (double-click on layer to open) the Blend If Underlying Layer white tab was split was set to 110/255 – this brought back some of the natural clouds in the sky and a lot of the image below but not all (all the tones between 110 and 255 below were added back). A layer mask was applied and some of the Impression filter was removed from the darker tones in the background. In Nik Viveza 2 seven control points were used to draw the eye gently down the road to the little forest. On a New Layer, the right edge was painted over to soften with yellow on a brush set to 11% brush opacity and Flow 50%. Very subtle again but it removed a distraction easily. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to add back some contrast. With Clone Stamp set to reverse (and Options Bar settings of Mode Lighten so just white parts are copied over, brush opacity 32% and Flow 42%), the clouds were added on right side of image. With a little more clean up, the above was the result.
I always enjoy playing the wonderful filters or plug-in available. Topaz creates a nice one-two punch when Glow and Impression are used together, especially nice in landscapes. By using layer masks, the Layer Style Blend If sliders, and different blend mode and layer opacities, a very nice effect can be added to your images. And ReStyle can turn the color into something that you may never have thought of using in the image. I will try to use some different plug-ins available in the near future and hopefully give you some new ideas on how to use them. There are so many choices, so many choices! ….Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
HOW TO GET THE SOFT GLOW IN TOPAZ GLOW
HOW TO COMBINE ALL THOSE TOPAZ PLUG-INS FOR AN ARTSY LOOK!
DIGITAL LADY SYD SPEAKS OUT ON TOPAZ IMPRESSION
MORE CLARITY ON CLARITY
Since I am still on my blogging break, I thought I would share a little painting done completely in Photoshop. And I might add, no Mixer Brushes! A few months ago my photo club took a trip to the Viera Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. This inspired me to create what I imagine how the wetlands would appear in the early morning of a summer day.
Some of the brushes used in this image were purchased, but all of them are very inexpensive or free brushes and links have been provided below, along with a few of tips. The final image included 34 layers so it took some time to create. It represents a lot of experimentation and trying different effects to see what looked good. To me, this is what I love about Photoshop – all the possibilities and ways to do things is just incredible. This is probably why this program has remained the image editing standard for other programs to try and emulate. I hope everyone will have a chance to paint and play in Photoshop this week. Try out some new strokes with these resources…..Digital Lady Syd
Image Info including Resources and a Few Tips:
The basic scene of the tree, grass, and water was created on 8 individual layers. I tend to put each type of brush stroke on its own layer so the strokes can be erased, opacity changed, blend modes used, or just redone easily without redoing all the painting, – then group all the layers together to create just one line in the Layers Panel so it appears as a single layer. The brushes used to create the grass were from one of my very favorite natural brush sets and are available for free at DeviantArt called Grass Set2 Frostbo Grass 009. (Frostbo has many brush sets that can be downloaded and all the brushes are really easy to tweak in the Brush Panel to create different strokes. See my How To Create a Magical Feel in Photoshop blog on how to do this. Also, be sure to read his usage rules.) The tree was created using a brush from Aaron Blaise’s Foliage Set – SB 46-4. Water ripples from Aaron Blaise’s Water Set was used for the water effect (Brush SB 51-15-1436). Aaron has some great inexpensive brushes with videos explaining how to use them. He is a former Disney animator and all his brushes are wonderful. Light shoreline sketches were made using a very simple sketch brush (Settings if you need one: Brush Tip Shape – 2 pixels, Hardness o, and Spacing 9%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure; Transfer – Flow Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure; and Smoothing on. This makes a really nice sketch stroke and I use it all the time in my paintings. These layers were all put into a group by highlighting them all and pressing CTRL+G.
Underneath the group a New Layer was placed and Grut Brushes.com brush NM Wool Meander was used to add a little soft yellow accent in the sky and water, showing some behind the reeds and tree. Check out his site each week for a new free brush – these are totally great brushes. A stamped layer was placed on top. Topaz (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impressions was opened and the supplied Ethereal Background by Blake Rudis preset was applied. A layer mask was added to the layer and the tree and reeds were painted back. On another stamped layer converted to a Smart Object, Nik Viveza 2 was added and 7 controls points were used to add blue into the image. The resulting layer opacity was set to 79%.
A New Layer was added on top and a free DeviantArt Midnighttouch’s rEgrets I’ve Had a Few set Egret Sample Brush #51 was used to create the bird in the image. A Bevel and Emboss layer style was added to the layer and set to Style Emboss, Tech Smooth, Depth 93, Direction Up, Size 2, Soften 5, Highlight Mode Linear Dodge (Add) at 5% opacity, and Shadow Mode Multiply at 38% opacity. This gave the bird just a touch of edge to it. On a New Layer the Beak and Eye were painted in with light orange and black. It was set to a 50% layer opacity. The layers were all highlighted and put into another group called Egret. On a New Layer above the group, Midnightstouch Sample Brush #4 was used to add the bird grouping. This layer was set to 36% layer opacity. She also has lots of other beautiful unique brushes – and do check out her use requirements before using.
Now to me the focal point was all off center, so the Crop Tool was selected to line up my objects, and then Content Aware Scale was used to add to the canvas. Content Aware Move was used to readjust the flying birds in the sky. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Reflector Gold filter was selected (Strength 0.17, Transition 0.40, Position 0.20, and Angle 90). You could do the same thing with Nik Color Efex Pro – I learned this trick from Jai Johnson. The Gold reflector filter adds a nice subtle warming effect to nature images.
So another cool trick for adding some localized blurring is to use the Blur Tool set to Strength of 72. I have never used this tool much, but it worked really great in this image. Since I did not want the white egret so emphasized, the blur tool just softened those edges a bit on the emboss layer style created on the bird. It was also used to soften the rather sharp edges of the leaves in the trees to give a more painterly look without removing the actual shape too much. The flying birds were also blurred slightly.
I really did not like the reflection of the tree and some of the grass in the water and was having trouble getting it softened the way I liked it. Finally the Smudge Brush was selected and using Aaron Blaise’s Grass SB 48-3-236 smudge brush, the area was smoothed. This brush comes with his Foliage brushes but probably any smudge brush would work fine. Just keep it subtle – it was set to 35% Strength. This layer was then set down to 65% layer opacity as the smudge effect was a bit too much. (See my How To Use the Brush Modes and Smudge Brush on Objects blog.) A Levels Adjustment Layer was added. Since this image was supposed to have a dreamy soft early morning look, but still needed a contrast boost, the middle tab was set to 0.70 but the black and white tabs were left alone. The trick to the dreamy effect is to adjust the Output Level strip. The black tab was set to 23 and white tab to 239 to maintain the soft look. Lots of other clean up layers were sprinkled throughout this document, but I hope you can see how to get some pretty nice effects with these brushes.
Still taking it easy with blogging, but thought I would discuss a topic I sometimes forget to do. While having a little break here, I am having a lot of fun adding a little, should I say “personality” to my images. As you can see in the image above called the “The Ballet Diva Making a Grand Entrance,” this Snowy Egret bird image (taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery) seemed to lend itself to some mild “ridicule” as I developed the painted version. I think I was inspired by an old Bob Ross Joy of Painting TV show I watched the other day, where he said that he gets to know each item he adds to his paintings. He was actually talking about one of the shrubs he was painting, but the point is that he was giving each item personal attention, not just painting in a bunch of shrubs. That sort of struck me as something I probably do not do, especially when digitally painting (and that is probably another whole blog topic). But it got me thinking – and I actually feel like I know these birds when working on one of their shots. Maybe that is why I enjoy painting them so much. So this brings me to the point that even though most photography and painting is supposed to tell a story, maybe the story is just the crazy way you look at an image. It seems to be really rewarding to post-process or paint an image “just for the fun of it” so that is what I have done here. Check out my Tidbits Blog links below for more funny bird examples. Hope you are all enjoying your summer – I know I am!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image Info: This image took a while to put together. It needed Photoshop’s Shake Reduction filter. Then lots of blending with Fay Sirkis’s Precious Oil Diamond Blender Mixer Brush which I find works well on feathers. (Her brushes are hard to find unless you are a KelbyOne subscriber – this one is a very creamy & oily brush which pulls out the feathers to points nicely.) Little eye sharpening and leg clean up. Finally got to a stamped version. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression Watercolor IV preset was first applied, then Topaz ReStyle using the Lavender Gray preset with some tweaks, then another layer of painting with Fay’s mixer brush and PS Flat Angle Mixer, before adding a texture by Jai Johnson called Spring Blush canvas on page 6. Thought I was done so added Nik’s Viveza 2 to finish and then I thought, hum, I wonder what Topaz Glow would do for this image. So I added Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset and set it to Soft Light at 45% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, Topaz Impression was once again opened and the Degas Dancers I preset was applied. On a layer mask in PS, the bird was painted back somewhat but the background and foreground retained the painted effect. Phew!
Recently I have been enjoying taking images and creating something a little different with them – I like to think of it as giving the image a “little magical” feel. This is probably because of the various new brushes recently bought or downloaded. Last week’s blog was on some new brushes I discovered and a new technique for adding some variable color to those brushes. Since the brushes seem to be a major factor to getting this magical feel, I thought I would explore some other techniques using Photoshop brushes. The image above is just a quick phone snap of some beautiful pink agapanthus (Tulbaghia violacea) growing in my neighborhood. I have to be honest and say I added the Monarch butterfly to the image to add interest – I do not believe Monarch likes this particular flower. To start my workflow, below is the original image from Lightroom and the image before adding Topaz Impression filter at the end.
As you can see, the original image is not exactly a beautiful shot, but for some reason it just had a look that I liked. I worked with this image a long time in both Lightroom and Photoshop, and almost gave up on it – just did not work as a realistic photographic image. For the final result not much was done in Lightroom, just a little Basic slider adjusting and a little sharpening with the Adjustment Brush. In Photoshop Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was applied and then on a duplicated layer, Topaz Glow was applied and the layer set to Overlay blend mode. (See Image 1 below for settings of the these filters.) Remember these are great filters, but similar results can always be obtained in other ways like using Photoshop sharpening techniques and adjustment layers. Now a few New Layers were added on top and some different brushes were selected to fill in and add color. The image on the right shows what results were obtained by adding in different brushes in different colors and using a Topaz Glow layer. I still really like Aaron Blaise’s Foliage Brushes so several layers used his weed and reed brushes to fill in the front brown areas. Several soft strokes were also added in the mid ground and background just to add some color that was sorely missing. With his brushes, not many changes were made in the brush engine as he has done a wonderful job of setting them up to give good results.
Also used several of Deviant Art’s Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes. (Be sure to read his usage rules for use.) Frostbo is one of my very favorite brush people and his brushes are all free – check out his other brush sets too. These 11 grass brushes were very basic and created in an older version of Photoshop, but that makes them very easy to manipulate with the Brush Engine. Two of his brushes were manipulated and added to this image. Brush 010 was selected, and in the Brush Engine, changes were made to Frostbo’s settings: Brush Tip Shape Spacing from 25 to 1000, Size 137 to 800; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter from 51 to 0, Control Pressure Off, Min Diameter 0, Angle Jitter 2, Roundness 0, Min Roundness 0, checked Brush Projection; Scatter not used; Color Dynamics Control changed from Pen Pressure to none, Hue Jitter from 19 to 4, and Saturation Jitter from 20 to 8; and checked Wet Edges. These changes created a slightly different brush that worked better for this image. A similar change was done to Frostbo’s Brush 004. There are no additional settings applied his original brush other than the Brush Tip Shape settings of Size 154 pixels and Spacing 25%. The changes I made to this brush are: Brush Tip Shape Size 700 pixels and Spacing 331%; Shape Dynamics just Angle 4 and Check Brush Projection; Texture Scale 78% with a really obvious light and dark watercolor pattern selected, Brightness 9, Contrast 5, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Color Dodge, Depth 100%, and Depth Jitter 0; Color Dynamics check Apply Per Tip; Foreground/Background Jitter 100, no Control on, Hue Jitter 3 and all the rest o; Transfer Opacity Jitter 8% and Flow Jitter 71%; Wet Edges check on, Build-up checked on, and Smoothing checked on. This created a very different effect. Below are what the brushes looked like before changes and after changes.
The After brushes look different – not a lot different, but different. One reason is that the Brush Projection is checked in my variants so the brush stroke can be stretched or squished depending upon how you tilt and move your stylus. The bottom row shows several variations of the same brush stroke with it turned on. It can add that additional variety needed to give the random look to the brush. Just uncheck it in the Shape Dynamics section if you do not like the effect.
The Monarch butterfly (an object I had cut out of another image) was added and a layer using Kyles Real Watercolor Salt Medium brush was used to add some of the little dots throughout the middle part of the image. Any splatter brush can do this, I just liked his. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Nik Viveza 2 was used to bring in the butterfly as the focal point. Next more Frostbo brush strokes were added on a New Layer and set to 56% layer opacity. On another New Layer above, the feel of small blooming flowers was achieved by using Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spatter Spread Brush set to 22% layer opacity and a Bevel & Emboss Layer Style added to give a little depth to the back area. A New Layer with Kyle’s Real Watercolor Spatter Mixed brush was used to add in the circles that I just liked and set to 80% layer opacity. This is where I was at in the right image above. Not a bad look, but it still needed something. That is when Topaz Impression was added – again using one of my own presets. These settings are also listed below if you would like them. Finally a Curves Adjustment Layer was added to correct overall contrast and another one to light the middle of the image a bit more. By filling the second Curves Adjustment Layer mask to black (CTRL+I in mask), then painting back the areas to brighten with a 30% brush opacity, the effect could be localized. That was it. The image was transformed into a magical colorful field of color.
Here is another example that actually is very similar to the first image. This time three images were composited to get this magical effect. They are all of weeds on my back porch (no comments please) and the base image is of the center weed in front of a step up. The pretty wild flowers and the front right green were masked from their backgrounds and Refine Edge was used to clean them up. It did an amazing job as it was difficult getting all the stems in the flower looking nice. They were then arranged in the original image and just a lot of exactly the same brushes used above were used to fill in the area. Tinkerbell brush was from Camilak3 on Deviant Art and on a layer below, her skin and clothes were painted in using a watercolor brush. To get the final feel, three four filters were applied as I just could not get it looking the way I wanted. They were Topaz Glow, Nik Viveza 2, Topaz photoFXlab and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4. I will give the preset settings below under Image 2.
One of the things I am starting to understand is that you can take any brush and basically “own it” by going into the Brush Engine and start playing. Once you like a brush, be sure to save it down as either a Brush Preset by clicking at the bottom of the Brush Panel or Brush Preset Panel, or as a Tool Preset by going to the top left of the options bar and clicking on the tiny arrow to open-click on the Tool Preset icon on right. That way your own version is ready to use over and over. There is no limitation on what you can do with a good basic brush. I have always loved my basic Chalk 60 brush – it just works for me. But now I have been experimenting with more object type brushes and they are turning out to be quite flexible when settings are changed also.
This week I just wanted to let you see how this can be done – it did take several hours to do each image, but they were a lot of fun to do. Since that is what I like to do, it was just perfect. Hope you enjoyed some of the tips and try out a little “magical look” to your images. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: The Topaz Clarity preset is one I created called SJ White Tulip and here are the settings: Clarity Dynamics-Micro Contrast -1.00, Low Contrast 0.05, Medium Contrast -1.00, and High Contrast 0; No Tone Levels or Hue/Sat/; and Lum Red 0.09, Yellow 0.42, Green -0.08, Blue 0.38 and all others 0.00; and Tone Level Black Level 0.11, Midtones 0.22, and White Level -0.33; and Sat Yellow 0.22, Green 0.08, Purple 1.00, and Magenta 1.00. Topaz Glow setting is also one I call SJ Mysterious II Water and here are the settings used for it: Primary Glow: Glow Type Dark, Glow Strength 0.30, Effect Sharpness 0.63, Electrify 0.14, Simplify Details 0.17, Edge Color 0.28, Detail Strength -0.06, Detail Size 0.20, Brightness -0.56, Contrast 0.44, Saturation 0.00, Line Rotation 0.00, and Glow Spread 0.00; Secondary Glow: Glow Type Light, Glow Strength 0.00, Effect Sharpness 0.22, Electrify 0.03, Simplify Details 0.00, Brightness 0.45, and Contrast 0.64; Color Overall – all set to 0; Red Sat 0.34; Orange Sat 0.33; Yellow Sat 0.03 and Lightness -0.29; Blue Sat 0.42 and Lightness -0.43; and Magenta Sat 0.75 and Lightness -0.35. Topaz Impression preset is one I call SJ WC like effect on bldgs – here are the settings: started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0.) Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones.
Image 2: Topaz Glow preset used is called Room Glow by Blake Rudis. (See my blog How To Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow for info on creating this setting.) Topaz photoFXlabs is a plug-in that does not support Photoshop CC2014, but can still be used with Photoshop CC which is what I usually use. I love the InstaTone setting in it and it was used for this image. Here are the steps and settings used just in case you own it: First set Dyanmics slider on duplicate layer to -30; In Brushes, painted in burning around Tinkerbell and then used Detail brush to sharpen her and the line behind her; then set to Smooth to soften the lines in foreground. Instatone Photo Library using
last image top row to get a nice tone to the image. Then Adjustments Temp -9, and Dynamics 64. This time Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 was used to apply just a gentle painterly feel to the final image. Here are the settings used to get the final result of the image: Oil Paint Detail preset modified: Background Brush Size 14, Photorealism 62, Piant Thickness 84, Stroke Length 11, Color Variation 18 and Brush Style Default Brush, and Random Seed 7556; Detail Masking Effect on Mask 1 – Brush Size -30, Photorealism 80, Paint Thickness -40, Stroke Length 0, Color Variatino -29, and Brush Style -29 painted over Tinkerbell and some of the splatters and the front two flowers; Mask 2 – Brush Size 23, Photorealism 43, Paint Thickness -40, Stroke Length 0, Color Variation -29, and Brush Style Default Brush and painted in some of the center weed; and Mask 3 – same settings as Mask 2 and painted over the line at top; the Mask Tool was set to Size 11, Feather 50 and Amuont 85. Color Brightness 10, Contrast 12, Saturation 14 and Temp 0; Lighting Highlight Brightness 30, Highlight Size 35, Direction 280 and Angle 66, Highlight Color White, Vignette None; and Canvas No Texture.
This image was taken at the 2015 Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. It is a very different type of totem pole and I wish I knew more about which group it was from and what it meant. In Lightroom Seim’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Classic Holga preset was applied. Once in Photoshop some clean up was done on a New Layer. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impressions was used (see preset settings at end of blog). Painted Textures Sunrise Canvas texture (one provided in one of their workshops) was used – it has some very soft yellow/orange colors. The Layer Style of the texture was opened (just double-click out side the thumbnail on the layer to open dialog box) and the Blend If sliders were adjusted to bring back some of the greens in the grass. On the This Layer slider, the white tab was moved left and split (ALT+drag on tab to split) with settings of 186/204; and on the Underlying Layer slider the Black tab was moved right and split with settings of 49/93, and the without splitting the white tab was set to 221. The next thing done, which is a little unusual, was to turn off the G and B Channels so only the Red one is checked. The layer Blend Mode was set to Hard Light and the Layer Opacity to 52%. You need to experiment with these settings as they can make some dramatic color differences to the image. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) Another stamped layer was created on top and set to Multiply blend mode at 60% layer opacity, and then the layer was duplicated (CTRL+J) and this layer was set to Screen blend mode at 14%. This adjusts the contrast in a different way. The last step applied Nik Viveza 2 to direct focus to the face. Loved the colors that came from the image!
Recently I wrote about some Pen and Ink Photoshop brushes created by Aaron Blaise, a wonderful illustrator and former Disney movie artist (see How to Create a Watercolor/Ink Image in Photoshop blog). Since these were so fun (and inexpensive), I decided to try out his Cloud Brush Set and this was my first effort. I believe that Corel Painter makes the best cloud effects, so I was surprised how good Aaron’s Photoshop brushes are! By following his video and learning about all the 30 different brushes included in the set (see Painting Clouds – Custom Photoshop Painting Tutorial video), it was not really that difficult to do this. I did find that some of the edges were a bit rough, but by just switching from the regular brush to the Mixer brush, those edges could be smoothed away when used as a Blender. To use it as a blender type Mixer brush these Option Bar settings were used: Turn on Load the Brush After Each Stroke (there will not be much color coming in due to the low Load amount), Wet 100%, Load 1%, Mix 90% (high amount indicated more paint is being mixed from canvas), Flow 100%, and Sample All Layers checked. Adjust the brush size and use it to push the color slightly from one area to another. Aaron does not use the Mixer brush, but does like to use the Smudge brush – I found this worked fine with the brush set to Normal Mode, 50% Strength, and Sample All Layers.
That’s it – just wanted to share a few things I learned this week, mainly what turning off a Channel does in the Layer Styles dialog box as in Image 1 and how to paint some pretty nice clouds in Photoshop using Aaron Blaise’s brushes. Total fun. Hope you all have a good week!……Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: Topaz Impressions SJ WCII background preset settings: Stroke: Brush Type 09, Brush Size 0.50, Paint Volume 0.68, Paint Opacity 0.83, Stroke Rotation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0.44, Stroke Length 0.38, Spill 0.09, Smudge 0, and Coverage 1.00; Color: Overall Hue 0, Saturation -0.02, and Lightness -0.04; Red only Sat 0.41; Orange only Sat 0.43; Yellow only Sat 0.43; and all the other color settings at 0; Lighting Brightness 0.17, Contrast -0.29; and Vignette 0; Light Direction x0.52/y1.00; and Texture Strength 0.16, Size -0.68, Canvas IV used, Background Type solid white, and Background white.
This 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!
This 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.
Here 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.
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
Sounds simple enough! It is but it is not. Had a lot of fun trying out a few techniques and going back and forth between Photoshop and Painter. Unfortunately, I believe this will be my workflow since both programs have things I like.
So let’s start with this top image. This actually is a tree that was created in Photoshop with their relatively new Tree Filter – it is in both Photoshop CC (go to Edit->Fill->Pattern Fill and open Scripts-has a few of the sliders missing from CC2014) and CC2014 (go to Filters->Render->Tree). It took some experimenting to get what I consider an artistic feel to the tree, but it can be done. Two files were created to do this. First I found a texture that I liked – it was Anna Lenabem’s Texture 208. (If you have not seen her textures, check them out – they are absolutely beautiful!) Next the tree was created on a New Layer above. (Here are the settings in case you want to see how it was done: Base Tree Type: Robinia; Light Direction 180, Camera Tilt 3, Leaves Amount 100, Leaves Size 98, Branches Height 100, Branches Thickness 112, Check Default Leaves, Check Custom Color for Leaves – color used R255/G255/Blue147, Check Custom Color for Branches R238/G128/B99, and Arrangement 94.9.) I think I am turning into a Blake Rudis “groupie” – he definitely has the best tutorial on how to create trees in Photoshop – see his recent video tutorial called How to Make a Tree in Photoshop CC. He also gave me the idea to try and make a fine art image out if it. Now here is where it gets a little sticky – the layer was duplicated and just the tree was taken into Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impression. (Here is my preset and the settings applied: SJ WC like Effect preset-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). Changes I made to it: Stroke Color Variation 0.52, and Green Sat -1.00 and Lightness 0.) The layer was set to 63% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed and clipped to tree layer on top with Master Hue set to -43, Sat +36, and Lightness 0 – this added some pink tones into the leaves. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Alien Skin’s Snap Art 4 was applied. (Here are the settings used: SJ Abstract Large Color Variation – Artistic Style Oil Paint; Background: Brush Size 27, Photorealism 4, Paint Thickness 100, Stroke Length 49, Color Variation 73, Brush Style Bristle Brush, and Random Seed 418; Detail Masking none; Colors Brightness 59, Contrast -14, Saturation 54, and Temperature 33; Lighting: Highlight Brightness 45, Highlight Size 26, Direction 120, Angle 65, Color White; Vignette none; and Canvas Rough Paper, Thickness 26, Zoom 16, Texture Paper, rough, Color white.) Since it puts the layer on white background, the layer was set to Multiply back in Photoshop and the layer opacity set to just 21%. The last step in this file added a Gaussian Blur filter with the Radius set to 1.1 – added a black layer mask and painted back just the sharp edges of some of the leaves that looked unnatural. Saved this image and then saved another version that was flattened to take into Corel Painter. Here is what the image looked like at this point.
All that was done in Corel Painter is a New Layer was added and Karen Bonaker’s Bare Trees brush from her Holiday 2014 Brush-a-Day Set (this is brush 1) was used to add the trees in the background. The file was saved as a PSD file and taken back into Photoshop where the Painter layer was set to 49% layer opacity. A little clean up was done on a New Layer. Next Painted Textures Desert Sky Canvas texture was applied twice, first set to Divide blend mode at Fill of 26%, and the second one set to Linear Burn at 68%. Another stamped layer was created and the image was taken into Nik Viveza 2 where the focal point was clarified just a little – I love what this filter does to a photo! Created a stamped layer and this time another of my all-time favorite plug-ins, Topaz ReStyle, was added. (These settings were used: Silver and Ivory Cloak preset – Set ReStyle to Screen at 53% opacity and Texture 1.00; Basic Tone Temperature -0.34; Black Level 0.66, Midtones -0.27, and White Level 0.05; and Detail Structure 0.39.) On a New Layer above back in Photoshop, the Blur Tool was used to further blur the edges of just the dark leaves on the tree that appeared too sharp. The last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to give a little more contrast. That was it – a really involved workflow, but it was not that hard – just a lot of experimenting. It was really fun to create something that looks so artistic with just filters!
This is the same tree – the only difference in the whole workflow is that I used a different preset for Topaz ReStyle – the Guite Chrysanthemum preset. The settings were lost but is was slightly lightened in the plug-in. I liked the results so I thought I would show you what a different color palette can do for the image. I really like the way the oranges and blues play off each other.
Hope this blog gave you some ideas on how to use your filters with the Tree Filter in Photoshop. It really can give some beautiful results. And what the heck is a Robinia Tree? Have a great week and grow a Photoshop tree!…..Digital Lady Syd