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