Anything Photoshop or Photography

Posts tagged “Topaz Lens Effects

MORE COLORIZE FUN

Vintage image of the Colonial Hotel in Nassau.

I have been taking a break for a while – lots was going on with all the many Photoshop conferences and the new versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. Everyone seems to be using this one filter in PS – I can’t say that I blame them. It is turning out to be pretty cool! Since writing a blog called Wow! The New Improved Photoshop Neural Filter Colorize in August, the filter has gotten much more stable and works a lot smoother.

The above is an image of the old Colonial Hotel built in 1901 by Henry Flagler in Nassau, the Bahamas. The hotel burned down in 1922 and the British Colonial Hilton Hotel is now located on this area. The image is from Shorpys.com (see original black and white). The area has some interesting history including scenes from the James Bond Movie Never Say Never Again! Thought I’d include this vintage 1918 postcard of the original hotel from Wikipedia. Wish I could have visited the original – it looks quite beautiful!

Postcard of the old Colonial Hotel in Nassau from 1913

For post processing on the top photo the relatively new PS Neural Filter Colorize was selected using just the preset called Retro-Faded. After applying the filter on a New Layer, a stamped (or composite) layer was created on top, and the Edit -> Sky Replacement command was used to add in a more interesting sky. On a new stamped layer, Color Efex Pro 4 was used to soften up the whole image to give an overall nice warm feeling (Ink, Darken/Lighten Center and Film Efex: Vintage filters were used). Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer for some image contrast.

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Image of a Fountain sculpture of Neptune

Below you can see the image of Neptune was larger and what settings were used. (See my 1-minute video called Hilton Waikoloa Village Palace Tower Fountain for other fountain images taken a while ago – I have no idea who created it!) It was cropped down to emphasize the expression on Neptune‘s face (this guy had a bunch of children). It took a lot of steps but the color definitely came from the Colorization Neural Filter. Below is the original image in the Colorize Panel. Just the sliders were used this time.

Settings for the Colorization Neural Filter in Neptune image

The main objects were selected, which took quite a while due to the complexity of the subjects and many items had to be covered, removed or added to get a more unified feel in the image – just basic PS clean up. One of my painted backgrounds was used to give a more painterly old feel. An oldie-but-a-goodie filter was brought out to give the image a warmer feel – Topaz Lens Effect’s Gold Reflection filter was applied at 79% layer opacity – then some of the effect was painted out with a layer mask so it was not overdone. Finished up with the Camera Raw to adjust the colors a little more. But overall this is the color palette that was applied from the Colorization filter.

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Colorized image taken from Shorpys.com B&W image.

The above image was another Shorpy.com black and white image of Bannack, Montana in 1942. I wanted to show that this image was colorized in the neural filter twice. First converting a duplicate of the original the black and whiter Background layer with the Output to New Color Layer checkbox on (see first screenshot below), and then using four Focal Points, three adding yellow to the dirt road and one to cool down the first hillside area (see second screenshot below). Back in PS the only other things done to the image were a Levels Adjustment Layer and a little bit of Dodging and Burning on the dirt road to define the edges.

Screenshot of the Neural Filter using the Output to New Color Layer checkbox.
Image of the Colorize Filter in PS using Focal Points.

As stated above PS has added a couple extra tweaks to the new PS 2022 upgrade and the filter no longer is crashing as much (also my brushes are working correctly again!) I did have one big program blow-out (PS just disappeared!) while adjusting the Focal Points, but when tried again it worked.

Still figuring out the other filters. It seems there needs to be a little more work done to get them working as good as the Colorize Filter. I did learn that if your Neural Filters keep crashing your system or shuts the filter down, you can delete the filter file and let Photoshop restore them when you restart the program. This fixed some of my errors with these filters, but not all. Here is the Adobe troubleshooting link.

Hope you have tried out this filter – it seems like it does have some very nice uses for the PS creative. It is nice to see PS adding a few new items to try out……Digital Lady Syd


CAN A BLURRY IMAGE BECOME SHARP? MAYBE

Image of a bird feeder with a couple of birds
Just doing a really quick blog this week – have been working on an image that was taken this last summer that I really liked, but it just was not that sharp. Mainly my settings were off – they were working on the butterflies but not for the skiddish birds. If I walked in closer, the birds were totally freaking and would not come near the bird feeder, so this was a problem. Lesson learned – shoot manual when having problems! It may not be the best image, but I did get a nice remembrance of the birds and they are at least recognizable. So here is what I finally came up with to fix this.

Obviously I was shooting a lot of images and that was a big part of why this worked. I have learned that a little burst shooting and several attempts are especially good when I am not sure that I am getting the image I want. The two images were not shot at the same time – actually several deer images were taken in between. The juvenile Blue Jay image was shot first and the Cardinal second. You will probably never find a Blue Jay and a Cardinal at this feeder at the same time. That is why the bird images were taken at different times, but I decided to leave the Blue Jay alone as I thought he looked cute. Below are the actual RAW files taken. You can see these both are in pretty bad shape. One reason I wanted to use this Cardinal shot is that I liked the way his head was turned.

Original Raw photos of bird feeder and birds

In Lightroom these simple settings were applied: first opened the Detail Panel to adjust some Sharpness and add Noise reduction (because it is always there with this camera), then in Lens Correction the check boxes for Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections were turned on. The image was next cropped into a Square. In the Basic Panel the Auto button was clicked and Texture and Clarity sliders were adjusted. That was it. The image was taken into Photoshop where it could be seen this just was not good. Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI was added and set to Stabilize, Remove Blur 1.00, and Remove Noise 0.20. It helped, but it could not totally fix this pix. In Lightroom an image that used the same bird feeder that was sharper had to be found – the one with the juvenile Blue Jay was selected. The changes made to the RAW file for the Cardinal were copied over to the Blue Jay image and it was also brought into PS. Below you can see what they both looked like at this point.

Bird feeder images after Lightroom adjustments made to them

Now the Blue Jay image had to have Topaz AI Sharpen applied in PS before stacking on top of the Cardinal layer. Several layers of cloning and painting with both regular and mixer brushes was required to add back the needed detail and blend the colors together. Once brought into the Cardinal image, the Blue Jay layer had to be Free Transformed to fit and a black layer mask added – just painted back parts needed. The info was all there on the originals, just slightly blurry. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added on top using Sparkle Stock’s Bleak-Shoji 01 LUT and set to 58% layer opacity – this tended to tone down the very green background color. Viveza 2 was used to highlight the birds and add a little detail with the Structure slider. The setting were placed on the Blue Jay in this case where the Structure slider was set to 65%, Brightness 42%, Contrast 49%, Saturation 22% and Warmth 25% – really made the bird pop – I use this program all the time to even out an image. I used 6 different points in this image to help direct the eye to the birds. I really feel it is much better than Lightroom’s filters and a lot easier to use. I do still love LR so don’t get me wrong, but this program to me is still the best Photoshop plugin ever made. (See screenshot below of how this plugin was used.)

Screenshot Viveza 2
On a stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Vignette filter set to Burnt Sienna was used – the effect was painted off the birds and feeder in a layer mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. Then on a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was set to a Strength of 100% to just the Cardinal and some of the seeds in the bird feeder – it was set to 45% layer opacity to keep it natural. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added next to adjust the red color in the Cardinal – this really added some depth and detail to the birds body which was not seen in the original image (Reds set to Cyan +82, Magenta +6, Yellow +2, and Black +13). Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top and the colors were adjusted as a black and white before setting the layer to Luminosity blend mode – great way to make sure you have your tonal values correct. (See my How to Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog.) Last step involved adding a Red Channel Luminosity Mask to a Curves Adjustment Layer – the Red Channel lighted up the birds the best. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) I hope I am getting across the fact that the sharpening is just slowly built up using different tools for different parts of the image.

Image of a painted deer
Who is this that just walked into my blog? Oh yes, one of the deer that was wandering around the yard near the bird feeder. My goodness! (Image was digitally painted mainly in Corel Painter 2019 and then finished up in Photoshop – my normal paint process.)

Anyway, thought I would show you how to fix something that may not seem fixable. It can be done, just takes a little experimentation and imagination to make it work. It actually is a lot like compositing images. Hope this was a bit of help to some of you – a favorite image might be saveable with a little manipulation. …..Digital Lady Syd


CREATING SOME MINIMALIST LANDSCAPE IMAGES

Infrared effect image taken at Green Turtle Cay in The Bahamas
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.)

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Small island in the Bahamas
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.)

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Image of a lone tree on Spanish Cay on the Bahamas
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 Descriptions:

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.


HOW TO APPLY FILTERS INDIVIDUALLY ON LAYERS

Image of Native American PotteryBasically this blog is showing that filters or plug-ins do not have to be applied on a layer with the second one applied on top of the first one on the same layer, but rather they can be applied to the same original duplicated layer and by using layer masks the desired effects from can be inserted. This image above followed a workflow that followed my Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 and Topaz Clarity Together? Tidbits Blog from a few years ago. It had been a while since HDR Efex Pro2 (part of the free download from Google-Nik) was used so it seemed like a good time to try it out again. The original image from the Tidbits Blog is shown below. This image was taken yesterday at the 28th Native American Festival in Ormond Beach, Florida. The displays and costumes really give a nice variety for those who love photography (and the vendors and show organizers are some of the nicest people!). The focus area of the two teapots show more of the HDR plug-in effect and the rest of the image has more of the Topaz Clarity filter effect. Any plug-ins can be used this way, these are just what I was using for this image.

HDR Efex Pro 2

The image was first opened in Lightroom where it was brightened up just a bit. Then in Photoshop, the background was duplicated, converted to a Smart Object (right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), and HDR Efex Pro2 was opened from the Filters menu. Note: you do not have to be shooting HDR photos to use this plug-in – it works fine with just one image. (For info on how to use if shooting with more than one image, see my How To use Google (Nik) HDR Efex Pro 2 Blog.) This is another one of those huge plug-ins with lots of sliders and presets to play around with on your images so the Smart Object allows  you to go back and adjust it if it look wrong (double click on the thumbnail in the Layer Panel). In this case the Outdoor 2 preset was applied. One of the best things in this plug-in is the Levels & Curves section where besides RGB and the individual channels, there is a the Luminosity Curve that can be adjusted – this was done for this image. The curve was pulled downward to get a nice overall effect. Then the Tonality section Structure slider was set to 31% and the Color Temperature was set to -20% and Saturation 19%. That was all that was done to this preset.

Topaz Clarity

Now for the Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Clarity part. This is one of my favorite Topaz plug-ins partly because of the versatility in it. The HDR Efex layer was turned off and the background duplicated again and set just above the background layer. Since the HDR Efex layer had way too much contrast for the softer vintage effect I wanted, a preset that I created for painting was applied in Clarity. It totally softens the whole image but the colors looked really good. (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 HDR Efex layer was turned on and a black layer mask was added (press ALT key while clicking the layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel). Just the areas where more contrast was needed was painted back into the image – mainly around the teapots where the focal point is. A round brush set to 50% opacity was used so edges were not too sharp.

Photoshop Brushes for Clean up

Some of the background in the curtains did not look so nice, so the brushes were brought out to paint in some colors and blend some colors on a New Layer. It is so handy to have a good Regular Brush and Mixer for clean up. A pastel with rough edges was used to paint over some greenish shadow colors that did not fit the image. The brush can be downloaded from SDW Haven Pastel Brushes Part 1 – it is the last brush or 11th brush in this free set. (These are the settings used for the brush: Brush Tip Shape: I like it as a small size so it is set to 8 pixels but enlarge it often, Angle 137 degrees, Roundness 100% and Spacing 35%; Shape Dynamics: Angle Jitter 42%; Texture  – Rough located in PS Erodible Textures (load by clicking texture patter, then on the cog wheel and Load Erodible Textures, and set to Scale 87%, Brightness -45, Contrast 0, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, Depth 50%, Depth Jitter 1%, and Control Off; and check Smoothing.) This brush also clean up funny colored edges nicely – just ALT+click in the image on the color to sample, and lightly paint in. I usually paint at 67% opacity with this brush.

Then an overall soft Mixer blender was used to mix up the edges. The brush I use is by David Belliveau from Paintable – here is a link to his free brushes and his How to Blend Colors in Photoshop: 4 Essential Technique blog. David does a great job explaining how to use brushes in Photoshop. On the clean up layers, I just kept going back and forth between the Regular and the Mixer brush adding color and blending until the color and edges look smooth. The Mixer also does a great job of softening lines that appear too sharp in the background. I use these two brushes all the time to both clean up images and paint in Photoshop.

Finishing Up the Image

Last steps involved adding on a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz Texture Effects 2 with adjustments to the Crisp Morning Run preset. A Spot Mask was used over the center pots so they were not affected as much by the plug-in. Duplicated the layer and applied Nik Viveza 2 to further sharpen the two middle teapots and add a little more saturation to that area. Duplicated the layer again and Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Silver Reflector filter coming from the left was applied – just to add a softer effect and emphasize where the light was. Using these three plug-ins one after the other is an example of applying them onto each other and no masking was involved. Therefore the effects of  Texture Effects is in the image where Nik Viveza 2 was applied which is in the results of applying the Lens Effects filter. If you wanted to get down to the original Background effect, many masks were have to be created. Subtle but significant difference.

Image of the Belarusian Countryside
Overall HDR Efex Pro and Clarity are not a bad combination for getting some nice effects in Photoshop. Both images used the filters discussed above.  Each filter was added on its own duplicated Background layer and then the parts of the image to be concealed were masked in or out on each layer. For the top image it just did not look as good when one filter was applied over the other one. This is really important to remember if you are liking the effect in two different filters – they do not have to both be applied over each other – just mask in or out what you like on separate layers. And do try out the brushes – they work really well together. Hope everyone is coping with the winter and staying warm. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd


GET RID OF THAT COLOR!

Image of John Raimondi's Dance of the Cranes SculptureJust getting back into the swing of Photoshop. Decided to try and get a fine art feel from my images taken at the Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden – a monotone feel was needed since the greenery around the sculpture was overwhelming the beauty of the actual sculptures.

For the above image, first on a duplicate layer the Refine and Place panel was used to select the sculpture and remove it from the background. It was added as a layer mask to the layer. Then two texture were stacked underneath the texture.

Texture:  The first one was one of my textures and was actually made in Photoshop using Just Jaimee 2012 Summer Brush Sampler Freebie – painted with her Texture Brush using a light gold color, on New Layer another Texture Brush layer used a light grayish blue around the sides a little, and on a third layer the Misty Brush created an upper right lighter goldish area. Then on another New Layer, blended around the edges with a mixer. Once saved as a JPG, it was brought into the image set to Normal blend mode at 100% layer opacity. Very simple to create.   The second texture was by Kim Klassen called Pinit 11, which was a white and slightly gray cement texture – very easy to do photograph a similar texture yourself. It was set to Pin Light blend mode at 55% layer opacity.

Google (Nik) Silver Efex Pro 2:  On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top, applied the now free Silver Efex Pro 2 to the image using the High Structure (harsh) preset which really emphasized the texture in the background.  Global Adjustment Structure section was changed to 33% and the Midtones to 27%. The only other change from the original preset was to change to Toning to No. 13, which give the beautiful color in the image.

Did a little Dodging and Burning using Curves Adjustment Layers to emphasize the sculpture properly. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn and Image blog.) Last step involved creating a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to just blend the whole image together by pulling slightly down. (See my How To Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) Used Photoshop’s Lighting Effect Filter with a Spot light to slightly lighten up behind the sculpture – set to 63% layer opacity. The font is called Gadugi from Microsoft. That is all that was done other than cleaning a few areas that did not blend correctly including the sculpture stand. I really enjoyed working on this image!

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Image of Philip Hulitar Sculpture Gardens in Palm Beach, FloridaThe palm trees above reminded me of nature’s sculptures versus the beautiful Gardens sculptures. I wanted a dreamy effect and it turned out to look a little like an infrared shot. The sculpture is called Forgotten World III by Norman Sunshine. Lucis Pro 6.0.9 (no long available) was used to sharpen up the image first. Silver Efex Pro2 was used again but this time the Fine Art High Key preset was applied without the frame and some contrast adjustments to start getting that dreamy feel – played with the Soft Contrast to get that feel. On a stamped layer Topaz (for website, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Lens Effects and applied the Moderate Diffusion filter as is. Topaz Impression 2’s Cave Dweller I was applied as is on another stamped layer. Used On1 Effects 10’s (for website, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Strong Vignette as is and set it to 62% layer opacity in PS. Did a little dodging and burning around the palm trees to differentiate them from the background. (See my The Best Dodging and Burning Technique! blog.) Some clean up was done and that was it!

If you have an image that is just overwhelming your subject, try going to a monochromatic effect to help isolate your subject better. It works really well with the green and yellow images. Hope you have a wonderful week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO ADD A SIMPLE GLOW EFFECT TO YOUR IMAGE

Image of a Palm Beach Florida HomeI have always enjoyed a nice soft glow effect in my images. This week I have been experimenting with the On1 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Photo 10 (which is now version 10.5) and am finding this is a much improved plug-in from a few years ago. The image above of a beautiful Palm Beach home is an example of one of their filters I like most – On1 Effects Glow Filter. This effect is very similar to the Diffusion effects in Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Glow 2 (which has many presets but not all create the above effect – still a fabulous plug-in); and Lens Effects, Topaz Black and White Effects and Topaz Adjust and even Texture Effects plug-ins (where the Softness, Diffusion and Diffusion or Edge Transition sliders can be adjusted), or in the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4’s Glamour Glow Filter with a Glow slider, Midnight Filter’s Blur slider effect, or Monday Morning’s Smear slider result. So everyone should be able to create a similar effect. All give very interesting soft effects to your images and can be localized with masks or control points.

On1 Effects offers the a lot of flexibility for this effect by providing 24 presets to select or using the individual sliders that can be adjusted manually. This also includes the ability to protect the Shadows or Highlights from this effect. For this image, Lightroom Basic Panel tweaks were done.  Then On1 Photo was opened as a stand-alone and the Perfect Layers module was selected to swap out the original colorless sky with a new one. (Go to File -> Add Layers to Files and found a sky to use.) The sky layer was placed under Palm Beach layer. Then the Masking Brush’s Perfect Brush was used to paint out old sky so the new one underneath shows through – used CTRL + drag in trees to get rid of some of the areas. Would normally use the PS Refine Brush to remove edging.  Next the sky layers was opened in the On1 Enhance module and lightened up a lot to match the top image tones. Then back into the Layers module and the Move Tool was used to adjust sky around trees. Highlighted the Palm Beach layer and went back into On1 Enhance to make a few exposure changes on the Palm Beach image layer. Last step was to use On1 Photo 10 Effects and apply the Glow Dynamic Contrast Filter – Amount 58, Halo 22, Warm 20 and Sat -24; Detail Small -34, Medium -25, Large 58. Saved image as a PSD file. This may sound like it was hard to do since three different modules were opened, but On1 had made this switch very quick and easy now. I still wish all the different panels were in just one interface as in Photoshop or Lightroom’s Develop Panel, and I wish the Layers module was available as a plug-in in PS or LR. Effects, Enhance and Portrait are available for PS and LR (if saved as a Smart Object, when image opened in PS, layers and masks will be available to edit). Still, this plug-in has come a long way and is much improved. For more information on how the sky was replaced, check out On1 Short Clip – Replacing a Dull Sky by Bob Campbell. For info on how to adjust the Glow Filter, check On1 Short Clip – The Preset Workflow Trick by Blake Rudis.

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Sign Painter at Jacksonville Zoo in FloridaSince many of you may not have the filters listed above, this image of the sign painter at the Jacksonville Zoo (this has got to be a dream job – love the paint on his pants!) used the free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters listed above to get a very similar feel. After doing some basic panel adjustments in Lightroom and sharpening up the image a little, it was brought into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer that was converted to a Smart Object (so I could go back and adjust the settings if needed – right click on layer and select Convert to Smart Object), Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. These filters were selected and stacked: Glamour Glow (Glamour Glow 76%, Saturation -39%, Glow Warmth 20%, and Highlights 44% to protect them from being too soft); Midnight Color Set Neutral, Blur 37%, Contrast 50%, Brightness 67%, Color 81% and Highlights 100%. A Control Point was placed on the painter and cat’s faces to remove the softening from this area – then the filter opacity was set to 67%); and Vignette Filter (place center on the painter and cat and set Adapt Edges 0%, Transition 59%, Size 19%, and Opacity 75% – a Control Point was placed on the white Jaguars sign and set to 54% opacity). Using Control Points in this plug-in can really help shape the effect you want. Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little contrast. Very easy and it created a beautiful soft glow effect.

Hope you have a chance to try out a Glow Effect. Hope everyone has a nice beginning to the Fall Season!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Get the Soft Glow in Topaz Glow
Yellow Dogface Butterfly in her Glory!


HOW TO PUT A PICTURE TOGETHER FOR FUN

Composite image of an elephant, palm trees, and some fancy brushesThis week I just felt like pulling together a little image so here is a little montage that uses several different media. I wanted a natural feeling to the image so I tried to use natural looking colors, textures and brushes to get the total effect. (For explanation of the difference between montage, composite, and collage, see my How to Create a Quick Montage blog.) Think I have a few new tips for this tutorial.

To do this type of image you need to create a selection. Selections were needed to create both the brushes used in this image and for adding the elephant and palm trees removed from other images.

Creating Brushes using Vectors or Objects

First a plant layer was created just because they looked pretty. These brushes were created from various vector flowers and plants collected from free sources on the internet. Try checking out Creative Markets and Design Cuts for some wonderful weekly free vectors. They also both have inexpensive sets that can be bought. Many scrapbook websites also have some great vector art that can be converted into brushes but be sure to check out the usage license. If you want a nice set to try the technique below on, download  Frostbo’s 16 Aquatic Plants PNG Brush Set at DeviantArt to turn into nice brushes.

So how do you do this?

  • First the object needs to be placed on its own layer. If the object is one layer with a solid color background, it can be selected by going to Select -> Color Range. Then select the background color and click the Invert box to select the object. Then press CTRL+J to put object on its own layer.
  • All brushes are created using shades of black and white. Therefore set foreground/background to default colors – Black/White by pressing the D key.
  • CTRL+Click on the thumbnails of the object layer to select it, then ALT+Backspace to fill the selection with a solid black color. Or to add a little variety to the image, on a New Layer paint over the selected areas with shades of gray to add some interest in the object. Or after selecting and placing on its own layer (CTRL+J), the Object can be converted to a black and white object by going to Image -> Adjustments -> Black & White Adjustment Layer – adjust sliders to get some interesting texture effects for the brush and say OK. Need to create a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top to create brush if using the B&W Adjustment Layer technique.
  • Now select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and place around the Object.
  • The last step is to go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. It will now appear at the bottom of the Brush Preset Panel.

Use this brush on a New Layers so the strokes can be adjusted, transformed, change blend modes, or whatever you want to do with the layer. I used Frostbo Aqua 12 to create a brush by selecting as above using a Black & White Adjustment Layer to leave in detail, and then changed the settings in the Brush Panel to the following: Brush Tip Shape – Size 400 px and Spacing 108%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter 9% and Angle Jitter 3% with Flip X Jitter and Brush Projection checked; Brush Texture using a Cold Press Pattern chosen in the drop-down panel with the little arrow (this is a small black and white patterned texture – try different ones to get a look you like), Scale 150%, Brightness 28, Contrast -10, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Multiply, and Depth 100% (if no effect is seen from the texture, try changing the Mode like to Height, and the sliders – watch the Preview Panel for changes); Color Dynamics – Check apply per Tip, Foreground/Background Jitter 100%, Saturation Jitter 20%, and Purity -37; and Smoothing on. Use a couple of nice plant colors and give it a try. It gives a nice light and breezy floral effect. This brush was used to fill the middle area of the plants in the image above. Below is an example of what the brush looks like with a dark red and greenish tone and with black and white. If the stroke appears too light, change the blend mode of the brush to Multiply or Linear Burn in the Options Bar to darken it. These brushes may take a while to create one you like, but once you find one, it is so nice to have these to give your own unique feel to an image!

Image of tree brush used in image

Using Quick Mask to Create Image Object Selections

Several different ways of selecting can be used , but I really like using the Quick Mask mode (the little icon located right under the foreground/background color icon on the Tool Bar or just press the Q key) when the object is not that large and not too complicated. When painting with a Regular brush, a selection will be created showing the red overlay which represents the selection. Just press Q again or the icon to exit and the selection will be seen as dotted ants. If your selection comes out wrong, double click on the icon and make sure it is set to Color Indicates Selected Areas. Of course there are many different ways to do selections, but this is my favorite for adding small objects. The elephant image was selected this way from an image taken at the Jacksonville Zoo and actually looks much happier placed in my image. Also the Palm Trees are a favorite object taken from one of my older Florida images.

Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers to Add Texture to Objects

The interesting birds are a free PNG file from Jai Johnson’s The Daily Textures (scroll to the bottom of blog to find download). A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+Click between layers to clip adjustment layer so it only affects the birds in image) to get the soft effect. To find the Pattern Adjustment Layer, go to the bottom of the Layers Panel and click on the half black and half white circle – then choose Pattern Fill. In this case a turquoise/blue watercolor pattern was chosen as a pattern and set to a Scale of 120%. The pattern can be moved by dragging in the image so the pattern is lined up just right. If you do not have a pattern you like, open up a JPG texture file in PS, then select the whole texture (CTRL+A) and go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Now the  texture appears at bottom of the pattern list to add as an effect with the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer (or it can also be used for the Brush Texture in the Brush Panel or the Pattern Overlay Layer Style effect). Using Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers creates some very nice effects when clipped to a black and white brush layer or vector layer. In this case, the bird file was a solid black PNG layer so adding the variegated watercolor effect created some very nice subtle detail in the flying birds.

Creating a Reflection

A reflection of the elephant and palm trees was created by duplicating their object layers, then choosing Free Transform (CTRL+T). By holding down the SHIFT key and dragging from the top straight down, the image can be pulled upside down to any length needed. If the water is shallow, the reflection will have more color in it. Above the water is shallow so the layer opacity was set to 49% to keep it soft but with some color from the original object. A round brush with grain it was used to paint in some water in a bluish color.

One of my orange and yellow colored Corel Painter textures was added underneath in Overlay blend mode to warm up the image a little. The texture border is from Kim Klassen‘s Nested Frame set to 80% layer opacity. This was after the texture was taken into Select -> Color Range and the center color removed – this created a border effect instead of placing the whole texture on the image. I am not sure this texture is still available – it is a shame since she creates very subtle soft textures that give images a slightly different feel. The now free Nik Viveza 2 was used to set the elephant as the focal point. Some clouds were added on a New Layer using Grut’s FX Cloud Brushes (these are fabulous!) – using a soft a beige color and not blue or white to match the image. The last step was to open Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects’ Grain filter (set to Amount of 0.48 and Size 0.47). Adding just a little grain to everything can really soften the object edges and blend the objects to make the image look like it was all in the original setting.

It really is a bit of a process to pull all this together, but it is fun to do. It took me several hours to actually create the above image. I made several wrong-turns before I got the effect I liked. The experimentation can give some really surprising results. Check out some of my older blogs below if you want some more ideas. Hope this helped you out a little – have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Springtime Wishes from Betsy
How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting
How to Create an Image From Nothing!


A LITTLE BRUSH FUN!

Image of the face of a Greylag Goose at West Palm Beach ZooJust adding a short post as I am still taking a blog break. This pix is of a Greylag Goose that resides at the West Palm Beach Zoo in Florida. Wanted to showcase the wonderful Inky Leaks Spatter FX Brushes recently purchased from one of my favorite brush people, Nicolai at the Grut Brushes Website. First created a texture to be placed behind the bird after he was selected and the original background removed. Topaz ReMask 3 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) was used, but the new PS Select and Mask Command would also do this very well. This background was created using several of Inky Leaks brushes and was a lot of fun to create. He has 100 brushes in the collection so there are lots of ways to use them. My favorites are the small spatter regular brushes which are  shown in the texture above. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was added above to change the color palette to more green and blues.

The Bird: The Crispy Swill mixer brush in the set was used to smooth out the paint strokes on the bird. The Grut website has lots of other nice brushes and in fact each Monday he posts a free brush to try which has given me a chance to try out different types of brushes and media. Another Grut Mixer Brush called Hay Camel was also used on this image, but I changed the Options Bar settings to Wet 100%, Load is 50%, Mix 100%, and Flow 83% for softening the edges of a subject. Just because certain settings are shown with a brush, take the time to try different Options Bar settings and textures. Very different brushes can be created that you may like better! Fay’s (Sirkis) Precious Oil Diamond Mixer Blender was first used to soften the feathers. This is a brush I use all the time on birds and the only place I can find her brushes is at KelbyOne Training – search for Fay as an instructor and several classes with downloadable material that includes her brushes are available. Her mixers are the best I have found for PS. If you can find a few brushes that you like, it is definitely worth the time to create a Tool Preset file with just these brushes. (See my Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up! blog.)

After painting the bird, Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Silver Reflector filter and a Toy Filter filter with the Camera Shake turned off was applied to further blend the bird into the background. For some reason I find this plug-in does a good job with blending objects together. The now free Nik Viveza 2 was opened to create a soft vignette feel. I just did not like the way it was looking so the texture was duplicated and placed on top using the original texture colors. A black layer mask was created by ALT+clicking on the mask icon at the bottom of the Layer Mask and parts of the image was painted back to introduce a little more color into the image. 2 Lil Owls (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Color Bokeh Grunge Set #2 overlay was added and set to Linear Burn blend mode at 67% layer opacity. This added a little more color and darkening in the corners. On a New Layer a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style was added for some painterly effects. The goose now has a lot more dimension and blends into the background much nicer.

If you love Photoshop brushes, Grut’s brushes are definitely ones to check out! Lots of choices here! And my other advice is to do not give up on an image if it is not turning out exactly like you wanted. Walk away for a while and come back to it – lots of times an answer does show up to improve the results. Well have a great weekend and go try out some new brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO DO A DOUBLE-EXPOSURE FOR FUN EFFECTS

Double-exposure of a Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard PalmThis week I decided to try a little in-camera photo effect and then post-process in Photoshop. In my mind, this is the best of both worlds when trying to put an artistic feel into an image. The above was first shot with my Nikon D-300 camera (I dearly love this camera and can’t seem to part with it!) and shot the image in multiple-exposure mode using just 2 shots. I am not really sure how this type of exposure is supposed to look, but this method seems to fit floral or plant images quite well. This image was taken in my front yard of a Queen Emma Lily in front of a Cardboard Palm. I see this as a very creative blend of the two exposures but it did take some finishing work in Photoshop to get the final interesting feel.

So first the basic workflow for taking a multiple- or double-exposure shot will be covered. It is not that difficult but do consult your camera manual to get the exact menu settings to do this. I will be using the Nikon D-300 menus, which due to its older age, should be similar to what is available on most newer cameras.

1 First set your camera to Manual Focus. To do this on my camera, looking at the front of the camera the Focus Mode Selector dial is located to the lower right of the lens. The dial should be set to M for manual (as opposed to C for continuous auto focus or S for single auto focus).  Note: For my camera, if either the Camera body or the Lens is set to Manual focus, then it must be focused  manually. Many of the lenses will have a Manual focus setting also (usually the lens is set to M/A – switch to M to make it focus manually). I am using the Camera Body setting for this.

2. On the back of the camera, press the Menu button and select the Shooting Menu. Then Scroll down to the Multiple Exposure choice.

  • Select the number of exposures to shoot – the above was just a double exposure so it was set to 2. Up to 10 are allowed.
  • Select whether to turn on Auto Gain. The difference is that when it is on, the exposure time is divided by the number of exposures chosen for the image, and when off, each exposure is exposed for the full amount of time (meaning shutter speed). I had it turned off, but try both to see which looks best.

3. In my camera I need to turn on the Multiple Exposure setting each time an image is to be taken.

It sounds a lot harder than it is. Just have to get familiar with where the settings are. Now you can try different camera settings to get different results. For the above, both of the in-camera exposures were shot using the basic Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens set to 105 mm at F/5.6. Below is what the original out of camera image looks like. First the palm exposure was taken, then moved the camera and took the lily.

Original image of Queen Emma Lily and Cardboard Palm

Post-processing: In Lightroom a Trey Radcliff free preset called Sunday Alone Time was applied and then the Vibrance was lowered (-65) so it was not so colorful. In Photoshop the layer was duplicated and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glow was opened and my SJ Inter Web Variation was applied. (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.) The Layer was set to Overlay Blend Mode at 96% layer opacity. A black layer mask (CTRL+click on layer mask icon at bottom of Layers Panel) was added and just the areas I wanted lines to show through were painted back. The Layer Style was opened (double-click on the layer) and on the Underlying Layer slide, the white tab was split (ALT+click) and set to 178/255 before exiting the menu. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and the now free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened. Three filters were used: Midnight with no Blur added, and overall opacity of 73%; Reflector Efex set to Gold with the light coming from bottom up; and Vignette Filter using a darkish brown color and centering on the focal point. Next the also free Nik Viveza 2 (downloads with the above plug-in) was opened and just one control point was placed in the center area to add a little more structure and whitening to the focal point. Last step involved using a New Layer to clean up lines – Grut’s – MI Swish Mini Mixer brush was used to break up the edges of some lines that were too sharp – I love this brush! Check out his other brushes too – so many wonderful ones! This image turned out to be a lot of fun and created a very different type image!

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Double Exposure image of some flowersAnother double-exposure image – used the same Nikon 18-200 mm zoom lens sets 150 mm and F/5.6. This was shot with white blinds behind the flowers in a vase and sunlight strong outside. This time for the first exposure just the focus was set to a very soft blur, then the second focused in on the flower to get this soft effect. The double-exposure created an almost translucent feel in the flower petals by shooting into the lighter background. In Lightroom just a few adjustments were made before going into Photoshop. On a duplicate layer, Topaz Lens Effects Diffusion filter was added. Then Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and the Glamour Glow filter and Film Efex Vintage filter (Film Type 13) were stacked. A pink pastel texture of mine was added on top and set to Darker Color blend mode with a layer opacity of 55% – a layer mask was added and the texture was gently painted off the flowers.

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Double exposure image of dandelionsThese dandelions were shot using the same lens at 170 mm and F/5.6. Once again, the background was really defocused for the first exposure and then brought the foreground dandelions into focus for the second. My first thought was to convert this to a black and white so it was brought into Photoshop and the free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 (downloads with the other Nik plug-ins) was opened. The Fine Art (high key, framed) preset was selected and the frame removed. Then a Finishing Adjustment using Toning 22 was used to give a warm tone to the overall image. There are lots of really great sliders in this plug-in so give them a try! It was set to 75% layer opacity and actually gives a really nice look at this point. But to get an artistic feel in the image, first 2 Lil’ Owl’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Stained Plaster Collection 17 texture was added to the image and on a layer mask, the foreground dandelions were painted back without the texture. On a stamped layer, Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Brandeis Blue preset was applied. Next another 2 Lil’ Owls texture called After the Rain 14 was added and set to Multiply blend mode at 85% opacity. Another one of her textures was added called Grunge 27 and it was set to Color Dodge blend mode. This added some texture in the bottom foreground – a black layer mask was used to remove all of the texture except this area. That is what was done to get the final image.

I hope this was not over everyone’s head – it really is just a way to change up an image and possibly get a different result. Many people go to much more extremes on shooting the double-exposure adding very different items, more like the first image. And many people are into creating silhouettes for the first exposure and then shooting small flowers for the second exposure for some incredible results. Since I am rather new at this, I stayed pretty basic with this. It does sound like it would be fun so I may have to try that for second go-round on this topic. Therefore if you just want to try something new, give this a try. It is a lot of fun and the final effects can be quite dramatic!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE MOTION BLUR FOR ARTISTIC EFFECT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Information

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

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

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

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WHAT’S NEW IN TOPAZ IMPRESSION 2?

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

What’s New?

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

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

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

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

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

POST PROCESSING INFO ON ABOVE IMAGES:

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

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

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


HOW TO HAND TINT A VINTAGE IMAGE AND CREATE A BRUSH TO DO THIS

Vintage image of ladies chatting at lunchLoved this vintage image from Shorpy.com, my favorite site for the old historical images, taken in 1902 at the National Cash Register Company‘s restaurant in Dayton, Ohio. I wonder what they are talking about? I found an older tutorial on hand-painting a vintage image and decided to share the technique. Previously I created a blog called How to Colorize an Old Photo blog using Solid Color Adjustments Layers, but this blog technique produces a more subtle hand-painting result. I guess this is why I have a hard time getting rid of my old resources – you never know when something will catch your eye!

Below are the basic steps to create this effect:

1.     This technique was found in a book called Special Effects – Restouching and Restoration by Tim Daly in the Chapter Restoring Hand Tints. Basically he suggest you scan your image, or in my case I downloaded an image from Shorpy’s – select an image that is more light-toned rather than dark-toned. As you can see in the original below, this fits the criteria. To lighten your image a little more, use a Levels Adjustment Layer and move the center tab called the Midtone slider so image is lighter.
Original Vintage Image of women from 1902Also, be sure to go to Image -> Image Size and check out the size and resolution of the image – the B&W above was set to a Resolution of 980 ppi and a Width of 0.837 inches and Height of 1.521 inches. The image was changed to a Width of 8 inches and a Height of 6.627 at a Resolution of 300 ppi.

2.     Next need to create a brush to use for adding the color tint. Open the Brush Engine (Windows -> Brush). Select a 45 px soft round brush. Down the side check the Buildup section – this turns on the Airbrush effect in the Options bar (or can just turn on the Airbrush icon in the Option Bar itself). Smoothing should be on in the Brush Panel. In the Options Bar, set the Mode to Color – this preserves the underlying image detail while painting. Set Opacity to 40% and Flow to 100% to start. At this point, I would definitely save the brush by clicking on the Create New Brush at the bottom of the brush Panel (it looks like a piece of paper with a bottom corner folded up). Since there are changes in the Options Bar, I also saved the brush as a Tool Preset – just go to the first (Brush) icon in the Options Bar, click on the down arrow next to it, and select Create New Tool Preset Icon and name it. The brush will now appear at the bottom of your list with the correct settings for both the Brush Panel and the Options Bar.

3.    Now the image should be turned to a sepia color, or whatever overall tint that is pleasing. For me a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was opened and the Colorize box was checked – the Hue was set to 27, Saturation 18, and Lightness +9. A stamped layer was created on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) to incorporate the two adjustment layers, and the layer blend mode was changed to Color and the Layer Opacity can be lowered to taste.

4.   Time to paint using using the new brush. Open the Swatch Panel, select a color, and paint in your image – I painted directly on the image above, but individual layers for each color is a much better way to control the color shades (as done in the tint image below). If the color is too bold, reduce the Opacity and the Flow sliders of the brush in the Options Bar. Tim Daly recommended starting to tint with the smaller areas with similar colors first. In my image above, only the focal point area was painted.

That is all there is to it! Very fun and relaxing. To finish up, add your own effects to the image. In the above, on a New Layer a hatch texture was set added to the brush in the Brush Engine and it was set to Multiply blend mode. The table cloth was then painted to give it a little subtle pattern effect. This is where you can add some of your own creative ideas into the image. A Color Fill Adjustment Layer set to white was used to make the hatched brush texture really white. Adjustments Layers can add all kinds of interesting effects to these tinted images. This image also used Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Texture Effects – based upon their Crisp Morning Run preset. Just added the oval Border and a white Color Overlay with a low 0.31 opacity.

TIP FOR WORKING WITH VINTAGE GRANULATED IMAGES: You might notice that some of the vintage images have a lot of grain in them, especially in the shadows. A great way to remove this problem is to use a Noise Reduction filter, then add a black layer mask and paint back over just the really obvious areas where the noise is bad. In the above, the faces had a lot of noise. Topaz DeNoise 6 was used, but Nik’s Dfine plug-in which is now free, or Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter-the Detail Section could be as effective. Just adjust to where the really noisy areas look good even if the whole image gets blurry. By adding a black mask (CTRL+I in the white mask) to this layer and using a very low opacity regular soft round brush, paint with white back in the really noisy areas.
Color Tinted Image of the Raleigh Hotel, Miami, FL in 1941Thought I would show you what a landscape type image looks like color-tinted. This image is of the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida on March 4, 1941. I think one of the reasons I am enjoying this technique is that it gives me a chance to really look at the image and see a story in it. To me this is really fun – and it gives a vintage postcard effect to the image. I look at all the people at this resort back during WWII and wonder who these people are – and this hotel is still very popular. What is also interesting about this image is that it is not all hand tinted – mainly just the foreground area has been painted in. Below is the original image so you can see what can be done with this type of image.

Original Raleigh Hotel image from Shorpy

Instead of a sepia tone image to begin the process, this one used a cyan-toned tint. Since the image detail is rather obscure the further back one looks, it is not so noticeable that the color is missing. In fact, the palm trees in the center back were actually lightened a little by clipping a New Layer on their layers where the color was applied and light dots of white were applied to softly blend them into the background just a little. Also after painting this image, Topaz Glow was used to make the tint colors stronger in the image – the cyan was to be the main color since it reminds me of resorts and warm water. Topaz Lens Effects was used to add a slight Golden Reflector effect from the right side to play on the palm tree fronds and a very soft cyan vignette was placed around the image as a last step. This image used 22 layers for the different colors and objects. Several mistakes were made using the wrong color and it was easy to just clip (ALT+click between the layers or click on the first icon at the bottom of the panel) a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to the layer and change the color to match perfectly. Therefore I would recommend using separate layers for colors. And do create the brush – it is very useful for this technique!

Hope you give this a try on one of your scanned black and white images or an old vintage image. Lots of fun here!  Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO USE A RED CHANNEL TO CREATE A NICE BLENDED IMAGE EFFECT

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

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

Tych Panel of Original and Before Curves Applied images

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

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

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

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

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

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HOW TO CREATE AN ILLUSTRATIVE TEXTURED IMAGE FROM A PHOTO

Image of a Palm TreeThis week I am going to just show a couple tricks about how to get this more illustrative look and how to use an overlay from a texture to get a nice effect. This is a beautiful Palm Tree that was growing in West Palm Beach at the hotel. It had a really green background and detail that was making it hard to separate the tree out. So this is how I got what I consider a rather nice effect.

So I am going over the basic workflow which was used on both this image and the foxes image below. Most of these steps I have covered in recent blogs on how to do them so I will direct you to them if you need to refer back.

    1. This image was adjusted using Adobe Camera Raw – just changed several Basic sliders. Lightroom was used in the second image changing only the DeHaze, Highlight and Shadow sliders and removing a little Noise.
    2. In Photoshop the bottom layer was duplicated by clicking CTRL+J (if opened as a Smart Object, which preserves your ACR settings as with the image above, need to  right click on the top layer and select Rasterize Layer to remove the Smart Object).
    3. This time Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail was used on the top image and Topaz Clarity on the bottom layer to just sharpen up the details. Any sharpening method works fine but start with a sharp image and remove the detail later if needed. (See my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3 blog and my More Clarity on Topaz Clarity blog.)
    4. The Foxes can easily be removed from their distracting background, so at this point Topaz ReMask 5 was used, but any selection tool would have worked fine. (Try using the Quick Selection Tool, Magic Wand, or  Quick Mask with the Refine Edge Command.) This  would have been an impossible task with the Palm Tree image at this point. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is? blog.)
    5. Next the free JixiPix Spectrel Art was used on both images. The Palm Tree used the Dark Edges preset and the background was painted out using the Erase Brush in the plug-in. For the Foxes, the Topaz ReMask layer is opened in Spectrel Art and Dark Lines preset was used. Those two presets seem to be my favorites. Both image were set to Screen blend mode on this layer in Photoshop. (See my How To Use the Free Spectrel Art Plug-In.)
    6. Now the newly free Nik Color Efex Pro 4 is used on both images. The Palm Tree used these 4 stacked filters: Film Efex: Vintage using Film Type 6, Glamour Glow, Lighten/Darken Center, and Color Set Monday Morning using Neutral. This gave the image a bit of nice glow in the image. The Fox image used the same first three filters (Film Efex: Vintage used Color Set 14) but the last one used Detail Extractor set to 20%. ( See my Digital Lady Syd’s Review of Nik Color Efex Pro 4!)
    7. Now clean up layers were used on both images. For the Palm Tree, a New Layer was created and just sampled the background area and painted around where the distractions were. Brush used was a free brush from Ditlev Fine Art Br Vol1-SB 6 13 – nice texture at a lower flow and just built up the effect so it looks somewhat painterly around the tree fronds. For the Foxes, used a chalk brush at very low opacity to reduce lines that were distracting and emphasized the head of the foxes which is the focal point.
    8. Now the overlays are used. For the Palm Trees, the French Kiss (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Artiste Bold Brush 2 texture was opened in another document. By going to Select Color and choosing Highlights and the check the Invert checkbox, a selection of only the color was created. Close the dialog and add a layer mask to the layer and the whites will be deleted from the image. I recommend using a texture with lots of grain and color to get an interesting overlay look. Now this layer can be saved as a PNG file to be used again. It was placed into the Palm Tree file and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between layers) to get the light turquoise color on the overlay. The layer opacity was set to 74%. This is one of my favorite overlays – I like for my image to show through better and it does not require a blend mode which can change the colors or the light values in the image. A layer mask was used to lightly remove some of the texture off the Palm Trees. The Foxes used the exact same process – this time two different textures were used from 2 Little Owl’s Studios (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link): Stained Glass 14 with the Highlights removed in Select Color at 32% layer opacity; and Starry Night 5 which used only the darker areas and was set to 84% layer opacity. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.)
    9. Now an extra step occurred in the Foxes image, mainly some lightening and darkening Curves Adjustment layers to differentiate the right fox head from the back of the left fox. (See my How To Use Curves Adjustment Layers to Dodge and Burn an Image blog.)
    10. Next Topaz Lens Effects was applied to both images where the Reflector filter using a Gold preset – this directed the lighted the light from a certain direction to give both images a warmer feeling. Just fiddle with the sliders until it looks good. If you do not have the plug-in, use Camera Raw Filter’s Radial Filter and add a touch of yellow Temperature and a little Exposure and make a big circle half off the image to warm up a side a little bit. (See my Topaz Lens Effects for Some Image Fun! blog.)
    11. New Layers were created in both images and just a little speckle brush was used to paint in around the trees and foxes to give a more painterly effect. The layer opacity was set to 60% so as not to look too fake.
    12. For the Fox image, a final step of adding French Kiss’s Sponged Edge border overlay to further give a little painter effect to the border. A Gradient Adjustment Layer was clipped to it that contained a warm orange to a gold gradient. The Gradient Adjustment Layer opacity was set to 36% and the Border was set to 35% layer opacity. Very subtle.

Image of sleeping Fennoc FoxesThese little Fennec Foxes were taking a snooze at the West Palm Beach Zoo on a sunny day. I was trying to give the impression that they were having wonderful dreams. I know the workflow above is a little extensive, and there are several different ways you can improve upon the effect. Still, I personally like that part photo – part illustrative look you can achieve with the various filters. And most can be reproduced with Photoshop and free plug-ins. Of course I am still a big Topaz fan, but there are always other ways to get a similar look.

One of the things I hope you try is Step 8 above. If you have some favorite textures, try removing a color out of them or highlights or shadows – this can really give a unique feel to an image and I do prefer a good PNG file over a JPG texture many times. Hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE THE FREE SPECTREL ART PLUG-IN

Image of Sandals taken at City Place in West Palm Beach, Florida
Had a blog glitch but finally got this one up. I have to thank Corel Master Elite Karen Bonaker for this wonderful find – a really fun free plug-in called Spectrel Art from JixiPix.  My initial impression was this can’t be that good if it is free. I was pleasantly surprised. What is really cool about this plug-in is that it uses a brush where you can either localize the effect by brushing it in or erasing it.

This is very similar in effect to Topaz Glow which is one of my favorite special effects plug-ins. Both plug-ins usually need a blend mode change. Once in Photoshop, the above Spectrel Art layer was set to Luminosity Blend Mode at 44% layer opacity. In the Topaz Glow image below, the layer was set to Soft Light blend mode at 50% layer opacity. The effect can be way too strong if left at 100% layer opacity – add layer masks if you want to further localize the effect in Spectrel Art. Topaz Glow does not have a brush to localize the effect in the plug-in so a layer mask must be used in Photoshop to do this. Below it can be seen how similar the results were with Topaz Glow using the same vignette and spotlight effects.

Image of shoes using Topaz Glow

This is not to say this plug-in will replace Topaz Glow – Glow has a lot more sliders and presets for a lot more choices (see my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Glow blog) , but for a free plug-in, Spectrel Arts does a pretty nice job. For comparison, below is the original show image after doing basic changes in Adobe Camera Raw.

Original Show image

To finish up this image, a white spotlight layer was placed on all the flowers (see my How to Add a Soft Spotlight Light blog) on the shoes and a soft vignette was placed around the outside of the image.

Spectrel Art has 27 presets that seem to be a really nice assortment of settings. There are also several sliders that can adjust the effect. In the top image and the screenshot below, the preset 18 Dark Lines was selected and the Detail Style changed to Soft.

Screenshot of Spectrel Art interfaceAccording to JixiPix’s website:

  • The Detail slider increases the amount of intersecting lines and Colorize Detail adds color to the lines. The Detail Style buttons deal with the amount of glow color and light applied to the image.
  • Taper Length creates an abstract style to the longer intersecting lines. Use Light Taper Style for white highlights and outlines effect – can use Lighten slider to illuminate the whole scene and Brighten to illuminate the outlines; and use Dark for stark contrast of black intersecting lines – can use Blacken to strengthen the overall dark areas and Blacken to increase the dark outlines.
  • Edge Sharpen defines and emphasizes the lines.
  • Color Boost enhances overall color.
  • Contrast darkens shaded areas and brightens the light ones.
  • Smoothing softens the curves in the lines.

That about sums up all the controls – very easy to use. Below the image of a white orchid butterfly taken at the West Palm Beach Zoo is another example using this plug-in. (Here are the settings used: Detail 64-just press the dot on the slider to get the amount, Colorize Detail 81, Detail Style Soft, Taper Length 50, Taper Style Light with Lighten set to 50 and Brighten 40, Edge Sharpen 98, Color Boost 21, Contrast 60, and Smoothing 68.) The layer was set to Color Burn at 51% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was placed on top and Greens was set to Hue -31/Sat -70/Lightness -61 to reduce the really bright green in the background. On a New Layer a Mixer Brush was used to smooth over the sharp edges of the colors. Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a dark olive green vignette was used. That was it. The Spectrel Art plug-in made the butterfly really pop!

Image of a White Peacock ButterflyHope you will try out this plug-in – it is a lot of fun and you can’t beat the price! I hope to have time to really see what it will do. JixiPix seems to have a lot of other plug-ins that I might try out as they look interesting. Anyway, have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

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HOW TO SAVE YOUR FONTS AS TOOL PRESETS

Painted image of a Rainbow Lorikeet birdThese are the happiest birds I have ever seen! There were several flying around a small aviary at the Jacksonville Zoo and seemed most so pleased to have their pictures taken. Lots of fun to visit with them! They also make wonderful paintings! (See end of blog for more photo info.)

This is a rather short post, but it addresses a little problem I discovered when trying to use my favorite fonts saved as Tool Presets. Since I covered the Tool Presets in a recent blog (see Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!), and I consider them so extremely useful, this week I will show you how to save your favorite fonts and settings. For some reason it is a little tricky to add them to your documents, so the following screenshots have been created to give you a little heads up on how to do it.

For starters, what the Text Tool Preset will do is allow you to use the exact settings used in a previous Text layer or document – all the Options Bar settings will be retained including color. This is the same concept that works with almost all tools used in Photoshop.

      1. First need to save your Font as a Tool Preset by selecting it in the Options Bar and all the other favorite settings.  It is located using the 1st icon on the Options Bar and then click on little down arrow for saved preset choices. See screenshot below. Note that this font can be saved several times using different Font sizes or colors for example. Anything that can be adjusted in the Options Bar will be saved in the Text Tool Preset. There are no Text Presets fonts saved. The Current Tool Only check box is checked. Only Text Tool Presets will be listed in this panel when the Text Tool is chosen.

Screenshot of Type Font being saved

      2. By clicking on the lower icon that looks like a paper with the corner folded up, a new Text Tool Preset can be created. The Screenshot below shows the dialog that opens with a default name. If you like it, say OK – if not, name it the way that you want and say OK. Often I will use a name to indicate where I use this font, like for a logo.

Screenshot image of New Tool Preset dialog

      3. In the Screenshot below, the Text Font has now been added to the Panel so it can be used again.

Screenshot image of Text Preset Panel with new font added

      4. To apply the Text Tool Preset, use this order. First select the Text Tool in the Tool Panel (formerly Toolbox) – do not click in the image. Instead open the Tool Preset Panel and choose the recently added font. A new Text Layer with the same settings will be created as seen below in the bottom text. If you select the Text Tool and click in the document, the Text Tool preset cannot be opened and all the settings will have to be reselected in the Options Bar.

Image wtih font applied using the Text Preset Tool If a Layer Style is used on the font, it will not be saved down with the Tool Preset – must create or use a saved Style Preset on layer after adding text. The original image shows two different fonts and two different layer styles applied to each. A lot of really cool effects can be created by mixing up the layer styles that can be added to the text layers just like regular layers. To open up the Layer Styles Panel, just double click on the layer. There is also a Styles section that has many effects already set up and can be loaded from this panel. (I will try to blog on this soon.)

Note that if you do not have many presets loaded in the Tool Preset Panel, many people will leave it open on their desktop. It is a quick way to switch between tools without having to select them in the Tool Panel or using a keyboard shortcut.

Hope this has been helpful to you – just short and sweet this week. See ya next time!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info:  There was a lot that went into the creating of this image. Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog for website link in sidebar) ReMask 5 was used to remove the bird from the image. He was standing on a branch, so all that had to painted over in additional New Layers. that Two of my Corel Painter backgrounds were placed underneath the ReStyle Layer – one set to Normal at 100% layer opacity and one set to Color Burn blend mode at 62% layer opacity. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and now the total painting and blending of the image could be done. Another one of my textures was added and set to Overlay blend mode at 33% layer opacity. On another stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effects was opened and a Golden Reflector was applied to warm up the right side of the image. Several layers were added and different Mixer brushes used to fill in the background and foreground areas. Exposure Adjustment Layers were used for eye, upper beak, and lower beak. A Nik Viveza 2 filter was used to drive the focal point home and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were applied (Ink, Film Efex Vintage, and Darken/Lighten Center). A Levels Adjustment Layer was used as a last step to add back a little contrast.


HOW TO SAVE YOUR FAVORITE OR NEWLY CREATED BRUSHES

Image of a Valentine Garden
Happy Valentines Day! Hope all are celebrating with some wonderful treats! How often do you lose those favorite brushes or ones you created? This has always been one of my biggest frustrations when using Photoshop because I either forget to save my created brushes, they get lost in the long list of other brushes in the Brush Preset Panel , or I did not give it a name that will remind me why I made it and how I used it. It has taken me a while to get a total grip on this, but I think I have finally figured out how to keep my brushes a lot more organized and easy to find. This week I am going to go give you the info on how to save your new brushes as an .abr file and next week on how to save your brushes as Tool Presets using a .tpl file extension and when to use both file types. With a little bit of effort, your brushes can be organized so you can find them quickly when needed. UPDATE: As of Photoshop CC2018, the information in this blog is now out-dated. Check out my newer blog to see what has changed at What Is New in the Photoshop Brushes Panel and Using the Smoothing Slider blog. For all versions older than CC2018, this blog is still relevant.

SAVING A NEW BRUSH

How do you save a brush? After making a change to a brush in the Brush Panel (see first Quick Tip below to locate) where the PS brush engine resides and changes are made to a brush, the new brush now must be saved in the Brush Presets Panel (Windows -> Brush Presets or click Brush Presets button at top middle of Brush Panel) so it can be used again with your new settings. Both of these brush panels have at the bottom a little Create a new brush icon that looks like a square with the right corner folded up. Just name the brush and check the size box if you want it set (I always check this). Now it is listed at the bottom of the Brush Presets list – see my SJ Heart Leaf Brush at the bottom of screenshot below (this brush was used as the heart background brush in the above image). This brush was created using a basic Heart shape and adding settings from the Brush Panel’s Dual Brush, Scattering, Color Dynamics, and Texture sections. As you can see the PS default name for the brush was Heart 1 – that name did not mean much to me. Instead it was named to something indicating it was my brush using SJ at the beginning, and changing the name to how the brush was used as shown in the top image .

Screenshot of Brush Presets Panel

SAVING BRUSH SETS IN PRESET MANAGER OR BRUSH PRESET PANEL POP-OUT MENU

This would seem like enough, but if you decide to append other brushes into the Preset Panel list , it is very easy to lose your new brush or accidentally delete it when replacing brushes. Therefore, if you like the brush, it should be saved as a set by itself, or with a number of your favorite or created brushes in a set – only the Preset Manager will let you select specific brushes to save as a Set. To do this, the Preset Manager must be opened – it is easiest to just click on the icon where the blue arrow is pointed in the screenshot above in either the Brush Panel or Brush Preset Panel or use the Brush Preset Panel pop-out menu item.  All the currently loaded brushes are listed in the Preset Manager.

Image of Preset ManagerThis screenshot shows what the Preset Manager will look like with the PS default brushes loaded and my one created brush. My brush is highlighted in the list for saving. After pressing the Save Set button, the brush file (with just one brush inside it) is saved. Many different brushes can be saved and the file can be named anything. On the top line of my explorer list, the brushes loaded in my Brush Preset Panel (file name SJ CC2016 brushes as of 021216) is listed so they can be reloaded back into PS after writing this blog. This set obviously contains lots of brushes as can be seen by the large file size versus the 20 KB file that only holds the SJ Heart Leaf Brush, where the set and the brush file have the same name. Just press CTRL+highlight each brush that you want to save in the current set. The brushes can be removed by CTRL+highlighting the brushes and brushes can be moved around to place in a different order.

The biggest tip I can give is to occasionally save all your brushes. If you have to reload PS due to a software problem, having those brushes backed up is very helpful. There are two ways to save all the currently load brushes. Can go to the pop-out in the Brush Preset Picker and select Save Brushes. Or you can go into the Preset Manager and just click on the first brush in the Preset Manager, press CTRL+A to Select All the brushes, then save down as a set like I did with my large file. If you decide to Reset or Replace brushes to the PS Default as shown here, it will ask you if you would like to save the current list of brushes. Say Yes and name, and the set will be listed underneath the PS brushes in the pop-out menus – note it does not show up on list until Photoshop is exited and reopened. This has saved me a few times!

BRUSH PRESET PICKER????

Photoshop can drive you a little crazy with some of the redundancy in the program. The Brush Preset Picker is just another way to view the loaded brushes, but it is not exactly the same as the Brush Preset Panel. Brushes can also be saved from this panel. To open right click on a mouse or Wacom pen, or press on the second icon over in the Options Bar. The size, hardness or angle can be quickly adjusted on the fly in this drop-down panel. I keep it set to the Large Thumbnail view so I can the brush more clearly when just looking for a type of stamped or static brush to add to a painting. I do not use it all the time but many artists find it very handy. The wheel cog pop-out panel in the upper right corner is almost exactly the same as the one shown in the screenshot image of the Brush Preset Panel.

Image of my Brush Preset Picker

QUICK TIPS

  • A quick way to open the Brush Panel which contains the brush engine – with any Brush Tool selected (including Clone Stamp, History, Smudge, etc), just click on the third icon over in the Options Bar that looks like a folder with paintbrushes in a can on it – hover over it and it says Toggle the Brush Panel. The panel will turn on and off as needed.
  • Some handy Shortcut keys for Brush Preset Panel:

Select Previous brush:  , (comma)
Select Next brush:  . (period)
Select First brush in Brush Presets list:  SHIFT + , (comma)
Select Last brush in Brush Presets List:  SHIFT + . (period)

  • As you can see, there are several sets of brushes PS provides that can be used as starters for your own creations. Just click on the pop-out menu in the Brush Preset Panel or Picker to see the list, along with any sets of brushes you saved in the default PS brush folder.
  • Stack the Brush Presets Panel on top of the Brush Panel and when the toggle button is used in the Options Bar, they will both open and close together. Very handy to tweak a brush quickly when painting. Just drag the top of the Brush Panel underneath the Brush Presets Panel until you see a blue line appear – they will now be connected.
  • To see same choices in pop-out menu as Brush Preset Panel or Picker in the Preset Manager, press the little wheel cog in upper right where the  way you view the brushes and names for each loaded brush can be changed. I prefer showing mine as a Large List, but that is just my preference.
  • With the latest version of PS, in the Brush Preset Panel and Picker, the latest 7 brushes used will be shown at the top of the panel. See in the Brush Preset Picker screenshot above to see my last 7 brushes and size that was used. By clicking on them, the brush is instantly loaded with the and brush settings changes that you had used. It does not save the brush changes, but for simple size changes, it is very handy!
  • Be sure to save your favorite brushes frequently!

I hope you found this information helpful – it can be very confusing if you are just learning about PS. Now at least you can be comfortable that any brushes you created can be loaded back onto your computer easily. Next week I will cover the Tool Presets and how they differ from the brush presets and when to use them. Until then, have a very fun holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info This is actually an image of some colorful leaves taken at the entrance to the Jacksonville Zoo. I actually painted them using Photoshop’s Default Action called Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup.  Two of my textures were added underneath – my Pastel Watercolor texture and on I painted in Painter I call SJ Fireworks set to 86% layer opacity. It created the nice blue and golden tones I wanted behind the cut out painted leaves. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects’ Toy Camera Yellow Green Low Contrast with Camera Shake turned off. This helped blend in the painted leaves into the painted texture. Two layers of valentines were used – one just a little valentine shape with the default Bevel and Emboss applied, and one using the brush loaded above to give a painterly valentine feel. The text used the Selima Regular font with an light yellow outer glow to help it stand out. That was it!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!


HOW TO USE THE PIXELSQUID ADD-ON IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of an old fence and houseThis week I spent some time playing with a Photoshop plug-in that is in beta testing called PixelSquid. It allows you to add various items to create realistic composite images. Each element has 225 pre-rendered images shot from various angles and with shadow layers that can be adjusted in different ways. It has a fairly large learning curve, but the website covers all aspects of the program and overall it is not that difficult to do. The elements are kept in a Pixel SquidPanel Panel or Extension in Photoshop. (It does take a few moments to fill the panel with your items when Photoshop is opened each time and sometimes you have to log-in to their site to see your items and get new ones – a bit cumbersome.) They will be offering elements for sale, but at the moment you are allowed to download up to 100 objects. The best description of what they are doing is demonstrated in this short 3-minute video that covers the basics called PixelSquid: Getting Started on Vimeo. For an excellent example of how this program works, check out a blog called A Little Compositing Inspiration by Pete Collins at KelbyOne which introduced me to this Add On (see his original post called Check Out Pixel Squid). If you try it as a beta program, you will be allowed to keep the elements you have chosen, and they will let you download them from the site for free any time you want to use them again. This is a really nice thing they are doing.

In the image above, the elements added were the rather cartoon looking dog and the bike. For me the main hurdle was to try and get a natural look so the elements blend into the original image. I could not get the items to go on the blank layer the program creates but had to use PSD and “Open As Another Document,” move in the layers I wanted to use, and then delete the blank layer in my image. I am assuming they are working on this aspect of the Beta program. They offer a Depth Layer to help with this, but for me, I just painted on the objects and used the Blur Tool to soften edges. Really a lot of fun. For other info on post-processing of this image, see my Image 1 Notes at end of blog (this was a really long workflow but it will give you idea of what was done). Also, be sure that you have your Adobe Creative Cloud running, or it takes a work around to add the Extension and elements into Photoshop. This plug-in extension only works in Photoshop CC2015, but there are PNG , JPG and PSD files that can be downloaded and used in the other versions. Just adjust the object view you want on their website and download it to your computer to place in Photoshop. The PNG files come in very nice with shadows already set. (It seems almost easier than using the Extension if you like the way the object will fit in your image.)

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Image of a park in Savannah, GeorgiaThis image is of a beautiful park in Savannah, Georgia, on a gorgeous Fall day. Several elements were added with PixelSquid – two trees, bushes, fountain, park benches and a little butterfly. This was really fun to create. Just remember it is rather tricky to do a composite that looks real-life, but there are numerous tutorials on the internet on how to do this. My goal was just to add some interesting lighting and correct shadows without doing a lot more. For more on post-processing, check out Image 2 at end of blog.

If there is a problem with this add on it is the issue discussed above that elements appear to need to be opened as PSD files in another document since I could not get the Low Res and High Res choices to open anything but a blank white layer. Then layers or the PSD group must be duplicated into your original document. (Highlight what you want to copy, be it layer or group or both, right click on the layer(s) and select Duplicate Layer (or Group)… In dialog, choose Document drop-down and select your image to place them in. Use the Move Tool to adjust location and Free Transform (CTRL+T) to adjust the size of the object(s).

I hope you will give it a try if you like to do this kind of thing in Photoshop. I can see a lot of uses for objects like this. It really is a lot of fun to try compositing, and since it is free right now, definitely worth looking into. Hope you all have a great Halloween and weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Notes for Images:

Image 1: This image needed a lot of manipulation to get to this point. First Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Clarity was used (used these settings:  Dynamics Micro Contrast 0.19, Low Contrast 0.64, Medium Contrast 0.44, and High Contrast 0.25; Tone Level 0.30, Midtones 0.03, and White Level 0.19; and Hue Yellow -0.56, Sat 0.20, and Lum Orange 0.09). Next the Bike was added. The dog was added in next and it was duplicated to make a shadow as I did not like the way PixelSquid’s shadow looked for my lighting. The dog on the bottom layer was selected (CTRL+click on layer) and the dog was filled with black – then it was Free Transformed (CTRL+T) to look like the dog shadow, and the layer opacity was set to 22%. Two Curves Adjustment Layer was created – one for darkening the image and one for lightening. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and Topaz Simplify was opened. (The Simplify settings are: Simplify – Colorspace RGB, Simplify Size 0.28, Details Strength 0.67, Details Boost 1.75, Details Size 0.20 and Remove Weak 0.10; Adjust Brightness -0.16, Contrast 1.00, Sat and Sat Boost 1.00, Dynamics 0.27, Structure 0.85 and Structure Boost 1.36; Edges – Edge Type Mono Line Fine, Edge Strength 2.35, Simplify Edge 0.29, Reduce Weak 10.00, Reduce Small 0.20, and Fatten Edge 0.66; and Vignette centered on dog, Vignette Strength -0.20, Vignette Size 0.30, Vignette Transition 0.65, and Vignette Curvature 0.83; and Overall Transparency 0.20.) These settings created a cartoon-like effect in the image. (See Serge Ramelli’s video on How to Turn a Photo into a Cartoon or Painting with Topaz Simplify for more on this. ) On another stamped object Nik Viveza 2 was used to pinpoint the dog and bike to blend them into the image correctly. On another stamped layer, Color Efex Pro 4 was opened and three filters were applied. (Settings used: Film Efex:Vintage using Film Type 14, Old Photo using Style 3 and set to Opacity 31%, and White Neutralizer.) The Blue Tool was used on the white parts of the bike tire to soften the brightness and set to 73% layer opacity. On another New Layer the dog was blurred with the Blur Tool set to 53% Strength. On another New Layer, Gruts Brushes-Natural Media Brush Lead Thumb was used to enhance some of the shadows in the image. (These are really great brushes with lots of variety.) On another New Layer some clouds were lightly painted in the sky. Then I added one of my textures on top that gave the image the warmer color – set to Hard Light at 93% layer opacity. The dog was painted on another New Layer using another one of Gruts Oil brushes. Since there was some real chromatic aberration around the tree leaves, on a stamped layer a Gaussian Blur was added to soft those edges by setting the Radius to 2.5. Then a black layer mask was added to this layer (CTRL+click on the Add Layer Mask to make black or CTRL+I inside white layer mask) and just the edges of the trees were painted back to blur the outline of the trees – this was caused by the Simplify filter settings. The last step was to add a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little needed contrast back into the image.

Image 2:  After initial tone adjustments in Lightroom, all nine objects and their shadows were brought into the image using the Duplicate technique in Image 1. On a stamped layer converted to a Smart Object (right click and select Smart Object), the Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects was applied where an Infinite Light was applied in the direction of the light using a yellow light color; this really lightened up the image. On a stamped image, Topaz Lens Effects was opened and the Reflector filter was applied (Type Golden, Strength 0.11, Transition 0.32, Position 0.52, and Angle 122.9) to lighten more. On a stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effects was opened again and the Single Tone Filter, Warm Tone 2 preset, was applied to keep lightening up the image subtlety. The park benches and fountain edges were too sharp so a Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur was applied at Radius 2.5. A black layer mask was applied and just the areas to be softened were painted back with a low opacity soft brush. Next New Layers were added to create some leaves and grass to further soften edges under trees and around the base of the fountain. Two Selective Color Adjustments Layers emphasizing the Yellow and Red colors – wanted the right tree to show up more and the path through the image needed to be more colorful for the eye to follow. The layer masks were turned black and with a white brush, these areas were painted back in. Next two Curves Adjustment Layers were added – one for just brightening the water in the fountain (black mask and painted back water), and the second to darken the whole image for contrast. More New Layers were created and several brushes were used to paint in detail. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to give a bit of a vignette effect, but in the layer mask, areas showing the lighter edges of the trees and fountain were painted back. That was all that was done, but it takes a lot of adjustments to do compositing.


HALLOWEEN FUN!

Halloween ImageTaking a break this week and just doing a little Halloween fun since it is this Friday! For some reason, I totally enjoy doing this kind of image. And there is not much rhyme or reason as to how I go about doing this.

For image details and resources: Mainly just need to get a really good texture for a background and see where you end up. In this case I started with one of my Corel Painter textures that was created to have a Halloween feel to it – lots of oranges, browns and reds in it. The Witch and Moon is a vector object from Graphics Fairy. The actual tree and horizon line is a small gray tone image from Beyond the Mist by Midnightstouch that was placed on top of the texture and set to Multiply to get rid of the whites in the small image. A dark brown Color Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers) to turn the color from a black and set to Color blend mode. Crows brushes were used to add in the birds – Crow Brushes by Zememz. A Gradient Map was clipped to them using a dark black to brown color to add some detail. Grass 009 from my favorite Frostbo’s Grass Set 2 was used to fill in grass in left foreground. Grass 005 was set to a little light color and painted in other areas of image. Aaron Nace’s Fog Brush was used to add some atmospheric haziness to the image, especially in the sky. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created and Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) was opened. The Toy Camera Filter set to Awesomeness I preset with no changes was used to get the very diffuse feel. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Glow was opened and my SJ Mysterious Water II preset was applied and set to Multiply at 55% layer opacity. (The settings for the preset are: 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 Glow gives a real soft lightness in the image. On a New Layer some distant birds were painted using Aaron Blaise Water brush SB 43-5 and Aaron Nace Fog brush again to distort their sharpness. The single bird vector image was duplicated and put on top now. A Bevel and Emboss layer style was added to him to make him stand out as one of the focal points in the image. A text layer using the Keep on Trucking font was placed on top. Next the Halloween Cat Brush by Altergromit was added on a New Layer and Bevel and Emboss, Outer Glow, and Drop Shadow layer styles were used to make him stand out a little. I just love this little cat brush! Next another text layer using the Halloween Spider font with Bevel and Emboss and Stroke layer styles on it. As a last step, WG Dust Particles was used to add some orange colored grain to the black areas and the foreground just to add some interest. Nothing to it!!!!!!! I really get into these Halloween pictures.

I have to admit it takes a bit of effort to do one of these – need to find resources that support what you are looking for. Most of the elements in this image I have used for years on different Halloween images. Thought I would repost a couple of these images from the last couple of years so you can see what happens with a few change ups. Click on them, which takes you to Flickr where the blog posts that list the resources are linked.
Happy Halloween from 2014

Halloween image from 2013Hope you have a wonderful Halloween and get to keep some of the candy for yourself – that’s the best part of this holiday now that I don’t have to make costumes for everybody! See ya next week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Halloween Greetings!


HOW TO CREATE A BLOWN OUT EFFECT PRESET IN LIGHTROOM OR CAMERA RAW

Image of a deserted Roller Coaster at Daytona BeachJust doing a fun quick blog this week on a Lightroom (Camera Raw) preset I created several years ago and rediscovered. This is an image of how I envisioned this roller coaster looking at Daytona Beach as we move toward the cooler months.

This image was first processed from Adobe Bridge in Adobe Camera Raw using an old preset of mine that uses the Camera Calibration Process 2010, so the new sliders were not present. It was one of my favorites and it was called Colorful Blown Out. (For an example of original use, see my blog Colorful Blown Out Look Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw Preset. The download links do not work anymore, so see Bird image below for the original preset settings.) I like this preset as it makes it easy to separate your subject from the background so the Color Range Command can be used. By adding a texture underneath, some really interesting and nice effects can be achieved. The Roller Coaster image uses the preset with the old 2010 Process and sliders. See end of blog for more post-processing info and how the Color Range selection was created.

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Image of Daytona Beach Another image from Daytona Beach near the end of summer. Mainly locals enjoying a few final days. Well, the same blown out preset for Lightroom 3 was used on the first image, but this time I updated it to Camera Calibration Process 2012. Click on the image below to see the settings used for the Basic and Luminance sections which make up most of the preset. The other Sections were Sharpening set to Lightroom default of Amount 25, Radius 1.0, Detail 25 and Mask 0. The Effects Post-Crop Vignetting was set to Style Color Priority, Amount +22, Midpoint 28, Roundness -14, and Feather 4. At this point the settings were saved as a preset. The Exposure and Vignette settings definitely need to be changed to suit the image, and possibly all of them – it is just a starting point. All these same settings are the same in Camera Raw as well. I do find I prefer the original preset more than the 2012 version created with the new sliders. My advice is to try both preset versions.

Screenshot of settings for Lightroom presetIt is a pretty high key look. In case you cannot see these settings, here they are: Exposure +2.39, Contrast +96, Highlights -28, Shadows +28, Whites 0, Blacks +10, Clarity +34, Vibrance +70, and Saturation 0. For more post-processing info, see end of blog.

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Image of a Roseate Spoonbill This rather comical image of a Roseate Spoonbill from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery used the original 2010 process. If you want to try it out, here are the Basic Section settings: Exposure +1.61, Recovery 0, Fill Light +56, Blacks 3, Brightness +50, Contrast +97, Clarity +68, Vibrance +70, and Saturation 0; Post Crop Vignetting set to Highlight Priority, Amount +36, Midpoint +54, Roundness -15, and Feather +76; Luminance set to Reds -39, Yellows -36 and Greens -25; and default Sharpening settings. These also need to be adjusted some to get the correct effect, but it is a good start. And lots of people prefer the Recovery and Fill sliders and use the older 2010 process with their old favorite presets often. See this short video by Matt Kloskowski, one of the best Lightroom gurus, called Lightroom’s Secret Shadow Slider Trick. The Fill In slider is quite high in the 2010 process versus the lower amount of Shadow in 2012. It is really great that Adobe lets you use the older sliders so you can still use some of your favorite presets.

Hope you try this effect, it is actually pretty nice on some images. Look forward to the coming months with everyone! Have another good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info:

Image 1: Info on finishing this photo is as follows. The Roller Coaster image was opened as a Smart Object in Photoshop where it was duplicated. This layer was rasterized to form one regular layer (right click on words in layer and choose Rasterize). This regular layer was taken into Select -> Color Range, choose Highlights, and clicked the Invert check box to select the roller coaster and not the sky. Next press CTRL+J to put selection on a layer of its own. Next several texture were tried out underneath to see what would give an interesting back effect. This time I used two of my painted textures and the Blend If sliders to get the colorful result. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link, see link at my Tidbits Blog) Lens Effects Dual Tone Red to Yellow preset was used as a starting point, then sliders tweaked to get the effect I liked. A Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top to see where my focus was going. By adjusting these sliders and setting the Adjustment Layer to Luminosity blend mode, the bright detail in the center were emphasized and where the image focal point is. The layer mask was inverted to black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the focal area was painted back in. On another stamped layer, Nik Viveza 2 was used to darken the edges a little. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step on top.

Image 2: Therefore, it was taken into Photoshop to add a few more tweaks. The Liquify Filter was used to slim down several of the beach-goers. On a stamped layer Topaz Adjust was applied using Topaz Adjust’s Painting Venice preset (one of my favorite Adjust presets) with changes to Transparency (0.57) and Warmth (0.17). On top one of my Corel Painter beach textures was added to soften and give the foreground a little more color, and was set to Normal blend mode at 53% layer opacity. A layer mask was added and the people were painted back a little to make them show up better. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added as a last step. Pretty easy and lots of fun to do! I just love all the activity at the beach!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
I Didn’t Know That! Converting Lightroom Preset to Adobe Camera Raw Preset


HOW TO GIVE THAT OVER-USED TEXTURE A NEW LOOK

Image of a Snowy Egret and a Chick at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm RookeryThis week I am just presenting a couple of simple suggestions on how to change up your older, and maybe slightly over-used favorite textures, to add a fresh backgrounds to your images. I have started painting my own textures usually in Corel Painter, but sometimes Photoshop, to cover up my busy bird backgrounds. For me it is easier to actually create basic textures to work with these images, and then keep reusing the ones I like. I also have favorites by several different texture folks that I tend to over-use. The above image of the beautiful Snowy Egret mother and her baby at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery is a great example of what can be done with a basic texture to get a totally different look.

First tip is to try out your different plug-ins

In this case, Topaz Lens Effects’ Toy Camera filter (Bright Color preset) was used to create this colorful background that fits in beautifully with the birds. See original texture below with birds that were extracted from image using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask 5, but before clean up and painting touch ups.

Original image of Egret and Chick before adding Topaz Lens EffectsEven Photoshop’s Liquify, Filter Gallery, and don’t forget the older Oil Painter Filter in CS6 or the original CC can be used to get an fresh interesting background. An you can always apply the effects just to the subject layer also. I actually used the Oil Painter filter on the birds first before painting them to use as a starting point. And with all the fairly inexpensive plug-ins around, try stacking some of the effects. Several Lens Effects  presets were tried before deciding on a colorful background. (Here were my settings so you can see how it was adjusted:  Toy Camera Aberrations all set to 0 as I did not want this effect; Placement Adjustments Region Size 0.06, Transition 0.48, and Angle 130.3; Region A Color Casts Cyan Cast A – 0.09, Red Cast A, Magenta Cast A and Green Cast A all 0, Yellow Cast A 0.13 and Blue Cast A 0.09; Region B Color Casts – All 0 except Yellow Cast B 0.17 and Blue Cast B 0.04; and Image Adjustments Brightness -0.38, Contrast -0.14, Saturation 0.03, Saturation Boost 0.13, Shadows -0.20, and Highlight 0.15.)

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Image of Gray Heron flying with a twigOne of the most important things to remember about adding texture to birds and flowers is to make sure the background colors somewhat match the colors of the area you removed from around your subject. The subject’s edges blend so much better and gives a more natural look. This may be the happiest Gray Heron I have seen flying around at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery. He seemed so excited that he found this wonderful twig to add to his nest. The bird background was very simple, just a flat blue sky, so the extraction using Topaz ReMask 5 left just a little bit of blue color fringing on the edges. By placing a bluish texture behind the bird, he blends in beautifully with the texture. This texture that I painted in Painter is not blue at all – see original texture below.

Original SJ Windy Fall texture in image
Tip Two is to use those Adjustment Layers to get different overall looks

To change this texture a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used and set to Hue +155, Saturation +7, and Lightness +22, which moved all the colors towards the sky blue tones. You can even go into the individual colors in the Master drop down to change it up in just one particular color area. The Selective Color or Color Balance Adjustment Layers also do great color changes. Both the Curves and Levels Adjustments Layers have drop downs behind the RGB that go into the individual color channels where very specific color changes can be made. The Color Fill Adjustment Layer set to Color blend mode at different layer opacities can change up the overall color.  And the Replace Color command can add some really nice color changes (Image -> Adjustments -> Replace Color). The bird was painted using one of Fay Sirkis’ Portrait Pet Mixer Brushes I believe they are still available at KelbyOne if you are a member (in their older webinar section) and they are the best for bird images that I have found.

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Tip Three is just Transform and Warp to your hearts content!

You can always Free Transform your textures when adding to the image, and stretch, bend and/or distort them anyway you want. Sometimes just a part of the texture looks good in the image – you do not have to use it all. Sometimes flipping it vertically or horizontally will make the subject fit in with the texture better. And don’t forget that Warp button – can get some really interesting results by pulling and stretching.

Image of white and pink parrot tulips paintedThis image is of some beautiful parrot tulips I had a few years ago.  It used a texture I created in Painter while I was just trying out different brushes. Below a screenshot of how the original texture was placed to get this effect on this image.

Screenshot of texture placement

This image used a lot of different painting techniques on the flowers. They were selected in Topaz ReMask 5. Mixer Brushes and Art History Brushes using 4 different History snapshots  (Light, Dark, Medium, and Color snapshots were created with Curves Adjustment Layers and Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to create snapshots – they can then be deleted) were used to paint the flowers. On top a New Layer was created and the Smudge Brush was used to add even more of a painterly look. It is important to remember that you do not have to stick to just one type of painting technique – change them up and adjust layer opacities or use layer masks to get the look you want.

Try out different effects on your textures either before or after applying them to your image. You might really get a very unique and special look by taking a few extra steps. Also check out my Texture category for more blogs on textures. Have a Fun Holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd


DIGITAL LADY SYD REVIEWS TOPAZ REMASK 5

Had not planned on writing on this topic this week, but since I own Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask, thought I would put it through its paces. Along the way, a couple other tips popped up! This image took me several hours to complete, but was worth it. The colors in these Scarlet Macaws are incredible and perfect for painting. I call this guy “King of the Alligator Farm” as he was so noticeable and seems to enjoy everybody checking him out.

Topaz recently updated their selection plug-in to ReMask 5 and the results are really great. Remember, if you own this plug-in, it is a free upgrade for you. The major improvement for me is the Background section as shown at end of blog. Otherwise I found the program to be just like Version 4 and it still works very well. (See my And the Best Complicated Selection Tool Is?) It took practically no time to separate this image with a distracting green colored background and place it on my Corel Painter texture. In fact, in most cases you do not have to fill in the areas. Check out this short basic tutorial for version 4, that works the same with version 5, on how to create a mask fast – ReMask 4 Masking Hair. After computing the mask, I usually adjust the Recovery slider (revives color of foreground in weaker transparent areas) and the Layer Mask strength (determines the brightness of the mask) to get better results in my masks. Check out the Manual for how all the slider work. Below is a screenshot of the ReMask 5 interface.

Screenshot of ReMask 5.0 with macaw selectedYou need to go to Menu -> Preferences and check Enable Use-Layer-Mask to get a layer mask on image layer back in Photoshop. The final image used three different effects in Topaz Lens Effects: Fisheye to increase the head size a little (this work really good on bird images), Toy Camera Awesomeness I preset tweaking the sliders to get the rich color tones, and as a final step in this image using the Fog 1 preset which gives the final slightly faded feel around the bottom of the image to drive the eye upward. The basic workflow was the same one used in my How To Get a Painterly Effect for Wildlife and Birds blog. The biggest problem with this image was to get the focal point well defined on the face since the colors are so vivid and compete with the face.

ReMask 5 really selected the bird and feather edges very easily and without too much touch up in the resulting layer mask. I usually flip between the Mask view and the Keep View. The brushes in the plug-in are very sensitive so that you can really select the extra little spots needed just by tapping with the brushes – no real painting. To switch between the brushes use keyboard shortcuts “q” for to add back image, “w” to remove areas, and “e” to recompute the area. Zoom in close and tap away with the different brushes. Pretty easy. This is the basic trick to getting a really clean mask.

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Image of a Cattle EgretThis Cattle Egret took lots of steps so I will not go over all of them. Just wanted to emphasize that the same Topaz ReMask 5 was used to select him. In this bird’s case, it took a little more clean up in Photoshop to get it exactly the way I liked it. The Oil Paint Filter in CS6 was applied to just the bird quickly, then I hand painted more on the bird. The Fog Filter in Topaz Lens Effects was used on the left side of the image to soften the body effect. Below is how the Cut View of the mask appeared for cattle egret image. One of my Corel Painter textures was added to the image a couple times for the final result.
Screenshot of Cut View in Topaz ReMask 5

BACKGROUND SECTION

Two things have been improved: Topaz has included a new Background icon at bottom of column where you can open any image to add into the shot as a background, and it is now a stand-alone program that interfaces smoothly with Lightroom. The best use for the Background section would probably be for adding a new sky in a landscape (see below) or as a background to a portrait. Have Background choices of Transparency (the default setting), Solid Color or Image where you can select an image or texture from your computer. Click the orange icon and you get options to Move, Scale (keeps aspect ratio so you cannot stretch the texture) or Rotate the background. Press the yellow icon to swap out the chosen background image. There are several basic sliders to adjust the background to blend in with the masked area. Below is a screenshot of this section where I replaced a sunset type sky with some painted clouds. The down side is that if you are using the plug-in within Photoshop, you will have to save the mask with the new background down in a JPEG, PNG or TIFF file format – it does not save as a layered PSD file. I found this very confusing as you have to reopen your image with the other formats in PS and mine all appeared to be flattened. For me it is easier to just create the mask in ReMask, then add the texture in Photoshop where there are more options for manipulating the blend between the two layers. Still it is a pretty handy thing to have for use with Lightroom. Here is the link on Flickr to the original image. Screenshot of Topaz ReMask 5's background section

BOTTOM LINE

I still love Topaz ReMask and version 5 is even better. Definitely my “go-to” program for creating complicated selections. It is worth the time to figure out how quickly the selections can be made, even if just used as a starting point. You can always go back to the layer mask in Photoshop and tweak it some more. I usually have to. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO GET A PAINTERLY EFFECT FOR WILDLIFE AND BIRDS

Image of an egret on a painted textureFor a few weeks I have been experimenting with some of the wonderful painterly techniques of Jai Johnson, a wildlife enthusiast who creates absolutely beautiful images. I am finally getting some results that are appealing to my personal taste as I love photographing wildlife in the natural habitat. I thought I would pass on what works for me. On her website she has several really nice videos. She uses Topaz (see website link in sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) photoFXlab as a stand-alone, but it is pretty easy to follow along and do the same steps in most versions of Photoshop. Lately I have been doing my painting in CS6 to increase the stroking speed especially with the Mixer Brushes, although all the CC versions will work fine.

Love the beautiful egrets that can be found in the rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in the Spring. This bird just seemed happy to me and was a lot of fun to paint. The background is one created in Painter for him. I believe you could create some nice watercolor backgrounds in Photoshop that would give a similar result. I needed a yellow warm light in the background to match the sunlight on his body. Used Jai’s basic workflow that puts him on top and then in a black mask, the original background is removed. She also uses Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter – in this case used to lighten the bird up. The texture was duplicated two more times and placed on top – one used Multiply blend mode at 16% layer opacity and the other Color Dodge blend mode at 15% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer was opened and the Colorize button was checked with the Hue set to 48 and Saturation 25 – filled the mask with black (CTRL+I in mask) and painted back just lightly areas I wanted the warmer color to appear. Nik Viveza 2 was used to add emphasis to the head area. The Eyes and Beak were sharpened using two Exposure Adjustment Layers. (See my How To Do a Quick Eye Sharpening in Photoshop blog,) Then a stamped layers (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top and opened in Topaz ReStyle using the Peppermint Gray preset (one of my favorites) to get a little different color balance. Back in PS the layer was set to 45% layer opacity and the bottom foreground was painted out in a layer mask to keep it slightly darker so the bird looks grounded. Last steps involved used New Layers to clean up distracting colors or areas.

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Image of Wood Stork on painted background
I totally love Wood Storks, the gentle looking birds that are everywhere down here in Florida. This one happened to be standing in the top of a tree at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, but they are everywhere in my neighborhood. There were actually two other birds next to him doing some crazy things so I removed them. They seem to tolerate people very well also.

In this image he was placed on a new texture created just for him in Painter. I tried to use complementary colors to the bird. If you like this type of texture, check out Jai Johnson‘s inexpensive (and some really nice free ones) and beautiful textures that give similar effects. The usual steps were taken of putting the bird layer on top of the texture, adding a black layer mask, and painting just the bird back with a white brush in the mask so the texture shows through from below. One of Jai’s great tips is to try to match up the texture with the original background colors of your subject. Used the Properties Panel Density slider to reduce the mask opacity to be able to see where the subject is for the initial painting in the layer mask, then put the slider back up to 100% when blocked in a little. Duplicated the texture and placed it on top of the bird layer, set it to Soft Light Blend Mode at 62% layer opacity. Did some clean up layers to even out some of the edges.

I am finding Topaz Lens Effect’s Toy Camera filter is working well with my bird images. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created on top to apply this filter. Looked at the different presets and choose one,  in this case the Yellow Green Low Contrast preset. The Vignette was set 0 and all the sliders in the Toy Camera Aberrations section far left to 0 since I really do not want the Toy Camera effect. The next Toy Camera sections should be adjusted for the individual image. (For the above the Region Size was set to 0.17, Transition 0.42 and Angle 55.25 – especially watch the Angle as it affects how the colors lay out on the image. Next adjusted the Region A Color Cast and Region B Color Cast to fit this image – mainly adding a little bit of Reds, Yellows and Blues to get the colors I liked.) I like how you can really adjust the colors around to get some nice blended effects. Finally adjusted the standard Image Adjustment sliders to add saturation and contrast. These presets, with some tweaking, can really give an image a beautiful soft and blended result.

The Eyes were again sharpened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer, and then  another for just the beak. These two areas have to be sharp since the eye will look first at them with birds, but be careful not to over-sharpen so they do not blend into the image – reduce the opacity of the adjustment layer a little if this happens. Next I wanted to add just a little contrast around his head so a Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add some burning by pulling down on the curve to get the correct tone behind his head, filling the mask with black (CTRL+I), and painting back where I want the effect. (See my How to Use Curves Adjustment Layer to Dodge and Burn an Image blog). The last step added Nik Viveza 2 to really make the focal point, the head area, pop out. Since the background is competing with his white feathers, the feathers needed some punch and a little softening in this area.

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Image of a beautiful tigerThis beautiful photo was from FreeImages – wish I could take credit for taking this image. The photo was used to follow the steps in Jai’s last video called Working With Bold Colors and Abstract Textures. This image had a really bright colored texture like Jai was using as a background. In her video she suggested trying out Topaz ReStyle, and that is where this color effect was applied. Also Topaz Adjust’s Boost preset was used instead of the Bold preset she prefers on the tiger layer. Topaz Simplify’s BuzzSim preset was used on just the subject layer. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Graduated Neutral Density filter was applied, and then ReStyle’s Dusty Desert preset which gives the almost colorless result. To finish an Exposure Adjustment Layer for the eyes and then Nik Viveza 2 to even out the background just a little were applied. Wish I had taken this image. Sigh!

Well hope you get a chance to check out Jai Johnson’s techniques on your wildlife images. Like I said, all her techniques can be used in Photoshop without too many changes – just experiment with the brush opacity and Flow settings is about all I see that is a little different. And I really like the Topaz Lens Effects Toy Camera effects – something I had not even looked at before! Hope you are all having a great summer – I am!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Topaz Lens Effects For Some Image Fun
How To See If You Captured the Focal Point
A Little Birdie Told Me So!
Jumping Whales
Horses Checking Me Out


TOPAZ LENS EFFECTS FOR SOME IMAGE FUN!

Image of a wintry pond
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.

Image of a wintry pondBut 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.

Image of a Roseate Spoonbill landing in a treeThis 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

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To Create a Magical Feel in Photoshop
Topaz Lens Effects Plug-In