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Posts tagged “Topaz ReMask 5

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 ADD AN ABSTRACT SHAPE FOR A FRAMING EFFECT

Siamang Ape at the West Palm Beach ZooThis week I thought I would cover a little trick that I learned from Photoshop guru Corey Barker in his Master FX Trick Shots video section called Abstract Shape Effect. Corey added several other elements to his tutorial, but the basic framing concept is pretty cool. The image above was taken of a Siamang Ape at the West Palm Beach Zoo and I am sure he runs this zoo! He was climbing up a huge tree in the middle of the zoo to announce in a rather commanding call the opening of the Zoo!

To do this technique you need to decide first how the main subject should be set up in the image, what texture(s) is to be used, and finally find a really nice brush or PNG file for framing your subject inside.

Workflow for Framing Effect

1.     Clean up image in Lightroom or ACR and Photoshop as needed.

2.     Choose a texture to place behind your image. In this case I selected a texture I had created a while ago. (For instructions on how this was done, see my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog.) The very organic nature of the texture blended well with the image being blended into the texture.

3.     For the framing effect, a black layer mask is needed – to get a black mask: either hold down the ALT key when clicking the layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel, or just add a white layer mask and click inside it, then press CTRL+I to reverse the white to black.

4.     Below are a couple ways to get an interesting frame are:

With Brushes:

  • You can paint your subject back in with a white brush using a smaller brush with a rough edges. Try painting not just at 100% white or black – use a 25 or 30% brush opacity to get some nice rough edges. A basic Photoshop chalk brush can give some interesting edge results.
  • Try using a large brush that requires just one or two nice dab stroke. The watercolor brush strokes can make some good marks in your layer mask. If the stroke does not look like it is lining up correctly, change the size and the angle of the stroke by just dragging in the Brush Panel Brush Tip Shape circle with the arrows and set where you want. it may tape a bit of experimentation to get this set just right. Here are a couple sets of free brushes that have some nice dabs for framing effects:  Spoon Graphics Watercolour Set 1 with 7 brushes, and Big Brush Strokes for Frames by Doodle Lee Doo with 53 brushes. For the above image, French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Dry Brush No 1-10 was used.

With vector objects or PNG files (this is a little harder to do but is nice if you have a certain object to place over the subject in mind):

Go to Adobe Bridge and find the file you wish to apply to the layer mask. Go to File -> Place -> Photoshop  – it does not matter where it is loaded in the PS file as it will be deleted. Adjust the object to fit approximately where you want it in your image. CTRL+click on this layer to select the object, highlight the subject layer and click on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. You may see something that looks rather messy – at this point, delete the original object file you just brought in as it can conflict with the mask you are working with. Take a small chalk or round brush and maybe add some Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of 20% to add variation on edges and paint with white – your subject will show up. Use a lower brush opacity if you want a more blended edge look. If it is not in the correct place, you can CTRL+T on the mask to Free Transform it – can flip or stretch it. Just build up where you want the subject to be seen clearly.

There are so many things you can do with this type of framing. Make part of your image come out onto the frame like the trees do in the above. The image below used both of the free sets of brushes and a free texture called Happy Easter which matched the colors in the butterfly nicely. This time the subject Butterfly Topiary at the Cityplace in West Palm Beach, Florida, was cut out using Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask5. It was placed on top of the background and another texture I painted in Painter. On the Painter layer, the free brushes were used in the layer mask to get the unusual effect. On the Butterfly layer an Inner Glow layer style was added – the Contour was changed to get the little line to go around the butterfly. Just a lot of playing with different Layer Styles and brushes to get a result I liked. The Butterfly image looks a lot different, but used the same workflow.

Image of a Butterfly Topiary from Cityplace in West Palm BeachWell hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday – Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How To use a Photo Frame Mask
Just a Frame Flower


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

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

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

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

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

Original image of the Drawing Room at Whitehall

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

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


APPLYING A FILTER TO OBJECTS ON A LAYER

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

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

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


CATCHING UP ON MY FLOWER PAINTING SKILLS

Image of painted zinneasThis week I have just been working on my flower painting skills. This is a beautiful Zinnia elegans with a Dahlia blossom in the lower left – I am looking forward to planting  both in my yard later this month. I am now getting to a point that I can objectively see differences and similarities between painting in Painter and Photoshop.

The painting technique used above is basically the same one I use on my various bird images, except I am painting the flowers in Corel Painter and finishing up in Photoshop. I am taking Karen Bonaker’s 2016 Painter Club at the Digital Art Academy and it really is a lot of fun. This month she is presenting a Blenders to Brushes class where she teaches you how to use different Painter brushes to create this effect. Of course, since I am a Photoshop person, I ended up finishing the composition in CS6 (which I and Karen prefer when using the Mixers in PS – the computer seems to paint much faster). I am finding that Painter brushes are definitely the most gorgeous, but the the basic program is a lot harder to manage than Photoshop (I can’t believe I am saying PS is easy to manage????) I am also using some PS tricks in Painter since the programs are similar in some respects (Layer Styles, Transforming, Blend Modes to name a few). I find selecting an item and using Layer Masks is much easier in Photoshop. And no Commit to Layer commands. In Painter a Mixer Pad with just black and white color swatches was created to quickly sample between the colors for working with a layer mask. And there is no way to view what the layer mask looks like on the image as in Photoshop (press the “\” key to see the colored overlay of the Layer Mask on the image). And I totally miss the Quick Mask selection tool in PS. Karen’s class supplies some wonderful brushes for this type of painting which produces a rather realistic painted rendition of the image.

This technique is similar to what Lori Jill teaches in her Udemy classes for PS but applies it to portraits and landscape type images. She also does a great job on teaching you how to use the PS Cloning Action which can be a little difficult to figure out. (See my Tidbits Blog Looking Glamorous! and An Old Victorian House for some examples.) I could easily create brushes just from watching her videos, but some brushes are supplied with a couple of her classes. Fay Sirkis’s (if you are a KelbyOne member, should be able to download) skin brushes for children work really well with flower images and were used to clean up painting problem areas from Painter. I am finding the basic trick for this technique is to figure out what brushes work for you. It is easy to get really confused by all the choices in Painter and sometimes really good brushes are forgotten. One thing I do like about Painter are the personal Palette’s that can be used to hold your favorite brushes and commands. A couple weeks ago I blogged about how to create Tool Presets .tpl files when painting in PS – similar concept, just not as easy since only one Tool Preset Panel can be opened at a time on your desktop. (See my Why Use the Tool Preset? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!)

Painted image of a pink roseThe pink rose used the exact opposite workflow from the first image – it was painted completely in Photoshop and the background was done completely in Painter. Topaz ReMask 5 was used to separate the rose in my original image from the background. Then the Painter background texture could be placed behind the rose. Now the edges of the rose can painted into the background to keep it all very blended – same technique as in my bird paintings. (See my How to Paint an Image Using Regular and Mixer Brushes in Photoshop.)

The other area that I am trying to figure out is exactly how Painter’s new Blending Panel relates to the Options Bar settings in PS. PS also has lots of presets choices – basically just need to know that if the word Dry is in the preset, it will be adding color if the Load Color icon is turned on; if the word Wet is shown, it will be mainly blending with Load Color icon turned off. Usually Sample All Layers is turned on unless the PS default Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup Action is run – then turn it off. These settings are very similar to using Painter’s Blending Panel Presets, new with the 2016 version. (Note the Blending Panel used to be called the Well Panel which does not have the presets.) One thing I do not like is how finicky the Blending Panel Preset field is – the Enhanced Blending Layers checkbox does not always work correctly and has to be reset by setting the Preset field back to Balanced and turning the checkbox on and off to get it to work. The Preset settings also do not save with down if a new brush is saved. And the Preset field is sticky, meaning if you go to a different brush and starting painting and the preset field is not set to Balanced, you can get some really weird results or none at all. Just beware if you use Painter’s Blending Panel Presets to always set them to Balanced before painting with a new brush. Sometimes I am just not using the presets and am adjusting the brushes manually. Definitely a glitch here that Painter needs to fix.

Painted image of some purple violetsThe purple violets are just painted but with a more illustrated feel to them. Tried to change up the colors a little for a slightly different look. Same process – this time painted in Photoshop and using a Melissa Gallo texture. The difference is that Kyle T Webster’s Impasto brushes, the Oil Dry brush and the Palette Knife 1 brush along with his action and layer styles, were used to paint some impasto stroke effects into the flower petals. This is a similar technique used by John Derry and Melissa Gallo to get that impasto effect, but I am still experimenting with this effect. It does give the flowers a little different look!

Well that is what I am learning. If you are interested in trying this technique, I would encourage you to check out the links above to check out their courses. I plan on being a little sporadic in getting blogs up for the next few weeks – trying to reorganize my office and set up my video capability on my new computer. In the meantime, keep on having fun in Photoshop!…..Digital Lady Syd


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.


MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Holiday Image with a Laughing KookaburraThis week I am just doing a short blog and taking a few weeks off – been blogging for 5 years without missing a week, and am updating to a better computer. As great as it is to get a new computer, it is hard not to anticipate some issues! This beautiful bird is a Laughing Kookaburra whose image was taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Basically this image used my regular workflow for painted birds. Used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReMask 5 to separate him out from his background and then applying the resulting layer mask. In Photoshop my own Corel Painter texture was placed below. In this case the texture was duplicated and set to Vivid Light blend mode. (The halftone effect was painted on a separate layer in PS when creating the texture.) In the Layer Style dialog (double click on the layer), the Blend If This Layer’s Black tab was split (ALT+drag apart) and set to 0/94, and the Underlying Layer White Tab was split and set to 84/129. The bird was painted above blending the edges of the texture into his feathers. An Exposure Adjustment Layer was used to enhance the eye before painting it. The nice Christmas greeting is a freebie from a scrapbook site using G&T Designs Card Topper 02. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E), Nik’s Color Effects Pro 4 plug-in was opened and 4 filters were added – Cross Processing, Levels & Curves, Graduated Neutral Density, and Classical Soft Focus. My free SJ Snow 2 Overlay was placed on top and set to 45% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the focal point. And obviously some clean up was done.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! …..Digital Lady Syd


SOME CHRISTMAS CHEER AND RESOURCES

Vintage Christmas CardHaving a great time creating some vintage cards since the season is near. I have linked some holiday resources containing, several with free downloads, to help you make some of your own creations along with a few tips and Glitter Brush to make. Lots of info here so off we go!

For the top image I actually started painting some aspen trees, like the ones Karen Bonaker is giving away for her Holiday Brush Giveaway for Corel Painter 2016, except this time a Photoshop brush by GrutBrushes.com called New Media Dim Detritus was used to create the trees. Nicholai has some of the best, all media Photoshop brushes – check out his Free Brush of the Week every Monday. This is how I started using his brushes and now I use them on almost every image. Used different colors to add variations on the trees and different brush sizes – held the SHIFT key as you drag to get a totally straight vertical tree. And added some smaller branches. This beautiful vintage scene is from a book published in 1894 called “The Coming of Father Christmas” has pdf link to download the original book from the The British Library Flickr group – another great free resource of vintage items. To get the God-Beam effect, Jai Johnson’s free Soft Pink Glaze texture was applied and set to Linear Burn Blend Mode. The Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer, and the Blend If This Layer white tab was set to 157/193 (split by ALT+clicking on the tab and pulled apart). On a New Layer a watercolor brush by Grutbrush called Bran Chatter was used to add a slight shadow effect in the foreground and was set to 36% layer opacity. A clean up layer was created and my SJ Pastel 3-painting texture brush was used to smooth some of the sharp edges by sampling colors and painting over edges to slightly blur them. (To create brush, see my How To Use Photoshop’s Brush Texture Section for Painting Clean-Up Blog.) Next my free SJ Snow2-Overlay-slight blur was placed in image and set to 53% layer opacity to add some soft snow. Next Something Like Life Photography & Design snow2 overlay was applied – here is a link to the Snow Overlays that contains this overlay. It was set to Screen blend mode at 92% layer opacity. The text is in an overlay set that Shadowhouse Creations, one of my very favorite texture people, is giving for the holidays. A Stroke, Inner Shadow and Pattern Overlay was added to this overlay to get the match up text to the vintage feel. Next from 2 Lil’ Owls (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) this pretty vintage overlay effect was added and called Color Bokeh-Grunge Set 4. The last step was adding a Curves Adjustment Layer to add back a little contrast.
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Christmas Card imageHere is another card I created just for fun. This time I have to give major kudos to the Scrapbook Community and all the wonderfully creative people that make their kits. The tree and packages in this image are from a set by Pixelscrapper‘s Brooke Gazarek called Touch of Sparkle Christmas Tree Gifts Kit (appears to be a free download with a sign up to this site). On the tree, besides adding a star using Stars & Sparklers brush 12 from PhotoshopBrushes.com and setting it to Dissolve Blend Mode at 83% layer opacity, the tree was brushed in with orange and then yellow on two separate layers to create a little texture using a brush made from listening to Aaron Nace, who is a Photoshop brush guru. This brush I use to add subtle color in shrubbery and backgrounds and in this case, the Christmas tree. (See end of blog for instructions on making this  brush – very easy.) Even the white falling snow can be added with this brush although an overlay in the scrapbook kit above was used here. The Silhouette of Children Receiving Gifts from 1900 is free from the Old Design Shop, a very favorite vintage blog that I follow – always lots of really cool old items to download. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReMask 5 was used to get a very clean selection but Color Range or any other method could be used. When a good sharp edge is needed, ReMask works the best for me. A default Outer Glow Layer Style was used on the layer mask. The actual silhouette was set to only 66% layer opacity. One of my Corel Painter textures was placed underneath the silhouette and tree layers and a Color Balance Adjustment Layer was used to get the background color effect. The Santa Claus and reindeer are in a set of Christmas brushes by Flina on Deviantart, some of the best around. What can make an image special is the attention to detail. In this case, the brush was used on two different layers – once in black and directly on top in red. On the red layer, a black layer mask was applied (CTRL+I in a white layer mask to invert), and just the area for his jacket and hat were painted back in white. A separate layer was used for Rudolf’s red nose and an Outer Glow Layer Style in light red was used to get a slight nose glow. I also tried to line up the snow so it looks like Santa took a turn around the tree before heading off. The last areas applied were all the text layers. Santa Clause Is Coming to Town is also from Shadowhouse Creations using link in first image description. Ho! Ho! Ho! is a free font called Hana set to 21 pts. and the Warp Style Flag was used to get wavy appearance.  An Outer Glow Layer Style was set to Blend Mode Dissolve, Opacity 75, Noise 44, Color White, Technique Softer, Spread 65, and Size 7. A Contour was changed and I cannot find the download link so try different ones and set the Range set to 100% and Anti-Aliased off. Try using different Contours in several of the Layer Style sections for different effects. This is another example of the detail that can be applied that will make the image look more professional. The Merry Christmas lettering is an overlay from the scrapbook file with the default Overlay Glow Layer Style added. The last step was to add a Black and White Adjustment Layer and adjust the green tone – then set adjustment layer to Luminosity at 37% layer opacity.

My Glitter Brush Settings:  For a little Holiday Gift, here are my brush settings so you can make your own perfect Glitter Brush. First use a very small 3 pixel soft black round brush and make about 8 or 9 dots in a small circular area. With the Rectangular Marquee, pull out a square by holding down the SHIFT key and dragging out around the dots. Go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset, name, and it will appear at the bottom of your Brush Preset panel list. I named mine SJ Glitter Brush-original. Next in the Brush Panel go to the Brush Tip Shape section and set 17 px, Angle 0, Roundness 100% and Spacing 11%; Shape Dynamics section – just these settings – Angle Jitter 17%, Roundness Jitter 57% and Minimum Roundness 25%; Scattering section – 593% and no Both Axes checked, Count 1, and Count Jitter 0; and Smoothing section checked on. Save as a brush preset (click on the folder icon at bottom of either the Brush Preset Panel or the Brush Panel) – mine is named SJ Glitter Brush-1. This brush can now be used to add some texture in or add some sparkles by changing the size to a small 3 pixels and adding an Outer Glow layer style (double click on layer to open). For the color brush, the size was changed to 7 pixels and the Color Dynamics section was opened in the Brush Panel where the Foreground/Background slider was set to 51%, Hue 66%, Brightness 100% and Saturation 10% – get rainbow sparkles. This was saved as SJ Glitter Brush-color. Sometimes I set the Hue and Saturation to 0 to add just one basic flower color into an image. Try using this brush on its own layer for adding texture into a background or an object. It really works wonders!

Well I hope you found some fun things to download and use in your holiday creative work. This time of year is so much fun as I feel I can just play away and nothing has to be too authentic looking – lots of fun. The previous posted blogs below also have lots of resources if you need more. Hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful time of year so until next week…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Digital Lady Syd!
Some Free Christmas Overlays to Spice Up Your Christmas Cards
How To Use Those Holiday Resources
Merry Christmas from Digital Lady Syd
Christmas Card from Digital Lady Syd!


SOME OF THE BEST PHOTOSHOP “WORK-HORSE” PLUG-INS

Image of beautiful porch in Savannah, GeorgiaThis week I thought I would just give you a quick run-down of a few of my favorite plug-ins for Photoshop where at least a couple are used on almost every one of my images. These filters in most cases are not for major creative endeavors, although I have used them that way before (check out Detail 3 for some great abstract effects), but the ones needed to make your image perfect. I have listed several Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) products as they seem to do exactly what I like, but many other companies have some similar filters and would be fine if those are the plug-ins you own. The above photo used both Nik Viveza 2 and Topaz DeNoise along with the Photoshop Camera Raw filter.

**NIK VIVEZA 2**

This “oldie but goodie” product is one I use on almost all my images, whether on the actual images or digital paintings. Viveza is just totally mind-boggling when it come to fine-tuning the tone or color in your image. I use it as the last step for when the focus is not actually on the focal point as intended, or if a corner is just a little too bright compared to the rest of the image, or if a color just does not work in a part of the image. Works great as a Smart Object which is great since it may take a couple times to get the adjustment just right. It uses control points for small localized adjustments. The Nik products were bought by Google and can be downloaded to try out. I do not see any other plug-in that overlaps what this program does, except possibly the Photoshop Camera Raw filter – it can do some similar effects using the Adjustment Brush, but definitely not as easy. For my review on Viveza, check out my blog, Nik’s Viveza 2 Plug-In – A Hidden Gem!
Image of View on Big Island, Hawaii
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**TOPAZ REMASK 5 **

Since I do a lot of animal and nature images, removing the objects from the original backgrounds is often necessary. ReMask is now so improved that it is totally worth the price if you do selections a lot. It really is better than Photoshop’s Refine Edge is most cases or any of the other plug-ins I own. I have written several blogs on this plug-in and that is why! Absolutely fabulous! See my blogs at  Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReMask 5 and And the Best Complicated Selection Tool is?
Image of a Snowy Egret
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**TOPAZ DETAIL AND TOPAZ CLARITY**

I still find the Detail plug-in is the best sharpening tool and use it on almost every image. Have used it for years. I also love Clarity (which uses contrast to control detail) – some images do better using Clarity, but for most of my images, Detail works best for me. Below is a good example of how good the Detail plug-in is and my review link at Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Detail 3. Image of a Native American Dancer
Here is one of my favorite Clarity images and my review link at Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz Clarity.
Image of a farm in Belarus

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**TOPAZ DENOISE 5**

Image of the Wharf in San FranciscoMost of my images are not taken at night, but since I still use an older Nikon D300 (I can’t seem to give it up!) which does not work great in dark areas, this plug-in works incredibly! It will always work for me when this situation occurs. (Also works great on aquarium pix!) This image was taken using ISO 1250, which with my camera sensor is really grainy, but this filter totally clean it up. Usually just an Overall Strength slider tweak and sometimes extra work in the Shadows, and it comes out nice and crisp. Check out my Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz DeNoise 5 blog for more information.

Well, there you have my basic filter run-down of the ones I use most often in my workflow. With some of the newer cameras, you many not need all of these. I know I am just very comfortable using those listed. There are some new filters out there that I have not had time to review – looking forward to putting Topaz Textures and OnOne Suite 10 (for website links, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) through their paces soon. Looking forward to trying out some new plug-ins! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


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