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Posts tagged “Topaz ReStyle

HOW TO CONVERT BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES TO COLORFUL PAINTINGS WITH TOPAZ STUDIO 2

Image of Cowboys at a Roundup in Montana in 1939
As most of you know, I have been working on learning to paint in both Photoshop and Corel for a long time – it is a very challenging process and sometimes I do resort to using my favorite Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) filters to use with my paintings. While playing with Topaz Studio 2 recently, I discovered several filters that could be combined to create very colorful and painterly looking images out of black and white ones. I have blogged several times on how to colorize black and whites (see end of blog for lots of links), but with a few of the Topaz Studio filters, very nice painting effects can be achieved fairly quickly.

All the blog images used a Studio “Look” to get the colored effect. Looks can contain many different filters so different results can be achieved. The really cool thing is that each filter in the Look can be manipulated individually and additional filters can be added to get an effect. And these Looks are saved just like a Filter preset is saved so it can be used over several times. That is what I did with a Look I call my SJ BW to Painted Color. I would post it to their community, but I do not believe they are doing this at the moment. Therefore, I will share the settings below so if you want to create the Topaz Studio basic Look and save it, you are welcome to use it.

The top image is called “Cowhands Singing after Day’s Work” – Quarter Circle U Ranch roundup in June 1939 – thank you Shorpy for finding this gorgeous image! (If you love historical images, you have got to check out Shorpy.) Click the link to see the original black and white image. See Image 1 (Cowboys Image) for all the details on how this image totally post-processed.

IMPORTANT: With old images, the size and resolution needs to be reviewed first – most have resolutions like 3200 pixels/inch since they were probably scanned. Go to Image -> Image Size and set Resolution to 300 ppi – the size can go really crazy like 0.5 X 0.7 inches so uncheck Resample, next look at the sizes and change if needed, then recheck Resample before exiting – the image will downsize and upsize just fine in PS. And always do your Topaz Studio changes on a duplicate layer since it does not support Smart Objects.

Topaz Studio Basic Looks Settings for these Images

Screenshot of Topaz Studio 2 Look
The screenshot shows a different image I am working on (a B&W Shorpy image called Cathedral Place at Charlotte Street, Plaza de la Constitucion, St. Augustine from 1906) where a screenshot of the settings was taken as they appear in Studio. See how there are 8 filters included and two additional filters added on top (Color Theme and Edges again). For the Cowboy image,

This could get long but here we go – wish the Community was available for downloading it. My Look is saved in a Look Category called My Looks and contains only ones I created since Topaz Studio 2 was introduced. I go in and automatically Apply the Look. Right away the image I am working on looks pretty good. At this stage, the Opacity could be adjusted and just use it as it is. I would normally start off adjusting the top AI ReMix filter and then go into Impression before changing the other filters. If the colors or effect still does not look right, another AI ReMix is added (turned on my Look’s since one is toggled on and other one is off in the Look). But since I am giving you my settings, lets start with the bottom filter and build it up.

Filter 1:  All Clear – set to Opacity 0.10, Normal blend mode, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High, Recover Details 0.10, Exposure 0.31 and Clarity 0.85. Now if the image needs less sharpness or it looks crunchy, you can always adjust these settings or turn it off if not needed. Note that I set the Opacity very low as I felt it most images don’t need much with all the manipulation being done, but it is very easy to change this.

Filter 2: AI ReMix – this is the turned off one. Mine is set to Opacity 0.71, Normal blend mode, Neon Rose Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.31, Contrast 1.26, Sat 0.75, Hue -0.10, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.64, Suppress Artifacts 0. These are probably the settings I was using on a different image a while ago and never reset the filter. But at least it is a starting point for adding some different effects. As you can see, ReMix is where the color is picked up by the image. For my image I will turn it off again as it was not too good on it.

Filter 3: AI ReMix – this is the ReMix filter I use most of the time but change the style. My default is set to Opacity 0.25, Overlay blend mode, Beige Sketch Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0, Smooth Edge 0.20, Sharpness 0.82, and Suppress Artifacts 0. All these settings are changed depending on the image. The Ballerina image used the Cotton Candy Style and it gave a totally different color and overall effect.

Filter 4: Edges – this filter may or may not be useful – need to turn it on and off to see if it helps or if Dark edges are better than the Light ones. Here are the settings: Opacity 1.00, Screen blend mode, Edge Type Color Edge, Edge Tone Light, Edge Strength 0.51, Simplify Edge 0, Suppress Weak Edges 0.09, Suppress Small Edges 0.02, Edge Thickness 0.16, and Edge Resolution 1.00.

Filter 5: Glow – this filter can make a huge difference in your image so be sure to turn it on and off to see what it is doing. Currently set to Opacity 0.85, Overlay blend mode, Glow Primary, Primary Glow Type Dark, Primary Glow Strength 0.62, Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87, Primary Electrify 0.45, Primary Simplify Details 0.66, Primary Edge Color 0, Primary Detail Strength -1.00, Primary Detail Size 0.05, Primary Brightness 0, Primary Contrast 0, Primary Saturation 0.72, Primary Line Rotation 0, Primary Glow Spread 0.80; Finishing Touches – Effect Coverage 0, Coverage Transition, 0.50, Sharpness 0, and Sharp Radius 0.10.

Filter 6: HSL Color Tuning – Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Color – Red Hue 0.29, Saturation -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange Saturation 0.51, Yellow Sat -0.3, and Blue Hue -0.32; Details 0, Suppress Artifacts 0, and Color Sensitivity 0. These all need to be adjusted depending on how the image is getting colorized.

Filter 7: Impression – I believe this is Topaz default settings except I like Stroke Type 03; I will give the settings anyway as these are the ones I like. Opacity 1.00, Normal blend mode, Brush Type 03, Number of Strokes High, Brush Size 0.50, Paint Volume 0, Paint Opacity 0.50, Stroke Rotation 0, Rotation Variation 0, Stroke Color Variation 0, Stroke Width 0, Stroke Length 0, Spill 0, Smudge 0, Coverage 1.00, and Painting Progress 1.00; Color – no changes; Lighting – no changes; and Texture – no changes except Background Type set to Original.

Filter 8: Precision Contrast – I do not always use this one and often I will add Detail filter on top instead. Opacity 0.51; Normal blend mode; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78, and High -0.54; Lighting – Shadow 0, Midtone 0, Highlight 0, and Equalization 0; and Color – Saturation -0.52, Vibrance 0, and Color Contrast 0.

Now you can add any individual Filters and maybe another Look on top of these settings if you want. You can also add new filters into the Look and save another Look. This is a very flexible process and has so many possibilities.

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Painted image from a famous B&W image by Albert in 1936
The above original black and white image was called “Ballerinas on Window Sill in Rehearsal Room at George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet” from 1936 – it was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life Magazine and appears to be a Getty image now. The original image used was very small so it was taken into Topaz Gigapixel to make it larger – 4 X was used (I mention this program as it is fabulous for this type of issue). Then the file was opened in Photoshop. Since it was still a very small image, the resolution was set to 300 and the size increased to roughly 6″ by 8″ (need to uncheck Resample to change the size, then recheck. Then Topaz Studio was opened on a duplicate layer and the “Look” applied. I have gone through all the individual steps in Image 2 below if you are interested. This one took a little more effort than the others – some just are easier to do.

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Black and white image converted to color
This image taken by Jean Eugene Auguste Atget of the “Passage des Singes, seen towards rue Vieille-du-Temple, 4th arrondissement, Paris” in 1911 and was provided by the City of Paris Museum. This is the original image used to create my Looks settings above – it was taken from a Topaz Studio 1 preset and migrated over to Topaz Studio 2. For more info, check Image 3 (Paris image) below. Basically wanted to show what a nice landscape type image can be obtained using these same basic settings.

I hope you will try this – it really amazed me how realistic the painting results were. I do think I get better results in Corel Painter, but it does have a very large learning curve and takes a while to get the brushes down. I am not sure PS has these effects down, although they are making great strides toward getting it. And the interesting thing is that Topaz packed all these creative filters together for you – you cannot get these type results without combining Topaz ReMix, Impression, Glow and mixing in a few others. And don’t forget the to try the Topaz ReStyle filter. I will be working on a few more images to show you but for now, if you own Topaz Studio 2, give it a try. (And actually you might be able to do it with Topaz Studio 1). This is really so much fun to do! Have a great week……Digital Lady Syd

Image 1 (Cowboy Image): After duplicating the background layer in Photoshop, the image was opened in Topaz Studio 2 where my Look was applied. The following changes were done to my Look: AI ReMix: Changed Style to Market Street at 0.23 filter Opacity and Overlay blend mode; Glow: Opacity 0.85, Primary Glow Strength 0.42, and Primary Electrify 0.11; Edges: turned off; Impression: 50% Opacity; and the Additional Filters – Color Theme filter: changed the second color swatch to more of a red color (37400c); and Detail: Overall – Overall Small Detail 0.61. Note that the second AI ReMix was not used as it is turned off but present in my Look since sometimes I need two of them. Back in PS the biggest problem facing the image was the color of the grass in the front – it was blown out. Color was added by setting a layer to Color blend mode and painting with a soft round brush a sampled tan color over all the grass – tried not to go into the face areas. Next one of my favorite Color Lookup Adjustment Layer presets called Foggy Night (a PS preset) was set to 43% layer opacity. This really softened down the overall effect. Then a Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast in the midtones (0.78) and clip a little of the black (Output Levels 0/229). Next a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer (Master: Sat +62 and Lightness +3) was used to add just a bit of color into the skin areas of the cowboys – the layer mask was inverted to black and just areas needed were painted back. Last step was a Color Balance Adjustment Layer (Midtones +17/-12/-55, Highlights 0/-12/-55, and no change to Shadows) for the grass – black layer mask and grass painted back.

Image 2 (Ballerina Image):  Going to go into detail here so you can what can be done to get a really nice painterly effect. After resizing the black and white image, Topaz DeNoise AI was applied on a New Layer. On another New Layer changes were made in Studio to my Look preset: AI ReMix: 0.30 Opacity, Overly blend mode, Cotton Candy Style, Style Strength High, Brightness -0.61, Contrast 1.65, Saturation 1.69, Hue 0.04, Smooth Edge 0.20, and Sharpness 1.00; Edge: Set Opacity to 0.76; Impression: In layer mask, painted back the 2nd ballerina’s face and part of the closest ballerina’s back – used a brush in layer mask set to 0.69 transparency; Precision Contrast: Opacity 0.10; and added Filter: Texture: Opacity 0.24; Selected Rainbow Leak 4; Brightness 0.06, and Contrast -0.02. Back in PS, Topaz ReStyle was used to adjust the color tone a little. Created a preset called Ballerinas using the colors now in image and placed it in my Colors from Images collection: ReStyle Opacity 68% and Color blend mode, Color Style Sat Primary 0.06, Secondary 0.08, Fourth -0.09, and Fifth 0.22; and Lum Secondary -0.02, Third 0.63, Fourth 0.33 and Fifth 0.31; and Texture 1.00; Basic Color Temp 0.23 and Sat -0.16; Tone Black Level 0.09, Midtones 0.33 and White Level -0.06; and Detail Structure 0.36 and Sharpness 0.30. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using Joel Grimes Soft and Desaturated preset set to 30% opacity. Some clean up layers were used to even out some of the face distortions caused by Studio Impression. A Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer was used and set to 57% layer opacity. A Selective Color Adjustment Color was opened and the Whites and Neutrals were used to add a little cyan to the sky outside the window. Viveza 2 was used to sharpen up the paint strokes in the ballet skirts. a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer at 12% layer opacity was added on top to adjust the color – had trouble getting the effect just the way I wanted it. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode and 47% layer opacity was added. A Levels Adjustment Layer was the last step and a Gradient Tool was applied to the layer mask going from black to transparency so only the front two ballerinas were affected by these changes – it also emphasized the stroke more on the front ballerinas.

Image 3 (Paris Image): Well this image took a while to complete since I was experimenting and trying to get a nice “Look” together that would be somewhat useful to all types of black and white images. I started with a Look using a Cartoon Look I had created in Topaz Studio 1 that contained the HSL Color Tuning, Glow, Edges, AI ReMix twice and AI Clear filters. (See my Best Friends Tidbits blog for where I used it first.) The settings are slightly different from the above Looks settings so I will list them. HSL Color Tuning: Red – Hue 0.29, Sat -0.54, and Lightness 0.29; Orange – Sat 0.50; Yellow – Sat -32; and Blue – Hue -0.32. Glow: Set to Overlay at 0.85 Opacity; Primary – Glow Type: Dark; Primary Glow Strength 0.62; Primary Effect Sharpness 0.87; Primary Electrify 0.45; Primary Simplify Details 0.66; Primary Detail Strength -1.00; Primary Detail Size 0.05; Primary Contrast 0.29; Primary Saturation 0.72; and Primary Glow Spread 0.80. Edges: Set to Screen blend mode; Edge Type – Color Edge; Edge Tone Light; Edge Strength 0.51; Simplify Edge 0; Suppress Weak Edges 0; Suppress Small Edge 0.02; Edge Thickness 0.02; and Edge Resolution 1.00. First AI ReMix: Set to 0.25 Opacity and Overlay blend mode; used Beige Sketch preset; Style Strength – High; Brightness -0.61; Contrast 1.65; Sat 1.69; Smooth Edge 0.20; and Sharpness 0.82; Second AI ReMix: turned off; AI Clear: Opacity 0.19, Remove Noise Auto, Enhance Sharpness High; Recover Details 0.10; Exposure 0.31, and Clarity 0.85; and on top of the Look, added Impression filter with my SJ Basic Favorite preset (Stroke: type 03; Number of Strokes – High, Brush Size 0.50; Paint Opacity 0.50; Coverage 1.00 using Original Background Type in Texture section). Next Filter: Precision Contrast – Opacity 0.50; Contrast – Micro 0.30, Low 0.54, Medium 0.78 and High -0.55; and Color Sat -0.50. Back in PS French Kiss Spring Impasto texture was added and set to Linear Light at 45% opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the texture and Master-Saturation was set to 100. A Levels Adjustment Layer was clipped on top of it to contrast back to the image (Midpoint set to 0.92 and white tab Output Levels set to 174). (See my How to Add Texture to an Image without Adding Its Color blog and short video.) Then a Light Gesso layer style I had purchased from Kyle Webster before he became famous at PS was used to add some extra painterly strokes into the image. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added last.(See my How to Create an Impasto Texture Layer Style blog and video.)

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Colorize an Old Photo
Giving a Vintage Young Lady a New Appearance
How to Hand Tint a Vintage Image and Create a Brush to Do This
Colorizing NASA Photos and Using Topaz Studio (And Check out Updated Detail)
Get the Boy Something He Wants
Abandoned Texaco Station
A Cowboy in Montana
Contemplating Life
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!


REBLOG – GET INSPIRED USING YOUR FAVORITE TEXTURES

Comic Image of me watching TV

This week I am doing a reblog from a few years ago – thought you would enjoy it since it is on one of my favorite subjects and lots of fun to use with images. In the meantime I am taking a week off from blogging to get some new pic and ideas (and taking a little down time – HaHa)! Have a great week!

Digital painted image of a farm sceneLots of times I have found or created a texture I really like that I would like to use in an image but not sure where. So this is a blog on how to create images for that texture, and possibly get your creative mind going. Not particularly a new concept, but a little different approach for using texture. It also gives you a chance to brush up on your compositing skills and try out some nature brushes. The image above is an example of my using a texture that I created in Corel Painter and used in this image originally.

There are not a lot of steps to this process. Just open the texture above a white Background layer in case the texture needs to be set to a different blend mode or opacity amount. Next add elements and/or text, and finally do the finishing steps as if post-processing an image.

That is exactly what was done above – here is the workflow for this image to demonstrate the steps. The texture was added and left as it is. Next Photoshop’s tree filter was used to create this pretty foreground tree. If you have not experimented with this filter, give it a try. (For more on this see my How to Create a Photoshop Artistic Tree.) It is so much fun! These are my tree settings – most of the settings were changed to get the tree effect shown above. (Base Tree Type: 19: Fraxinus Griffithi which is an Evergreen Ash, Light Direction 85, Leaves Amount 22, Leaves Size 130, Branches Height 94, Branches Thickness 77, Uncheck Default Leaves and select 8: Leaves 8, Uncheck Randomize Shapes Arrangement 21.3.) A layer mask can always be added if you do not quite like the way the branches look – in this case some of the leaves were too dark so a 30% brush was painted over them in the mask to lighten them up. The Liquify Tool can also be used to get the branches sitting just right. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the tree to make it more golden in color to match the texture. The texture looked like a golden wheat field to me so a little red barn from PixelSquid was added – a mask was added so the bottom of the barn could be removed and hide it from view. The layer was set to 55% layer opacity so it is looks a little less sharp and more distance. I love the brushes by DeviantArt’s ninelvlsup and her Dandelion Whisps brush was used in the foreground. Some of the edges were removed with a layer mask. The birds are from a Flypaper Bird Set that I use all the time. To soften the effect of the birds, a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the birds and a yellow and red pattern was used. The bird layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity. The last element is the single bird from the same brush set called Big Crow Fly Birds brush – it was duplicated and the top layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 65% layer opacity to emphasize the bird a little more. The elements are now in place. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle was opened. There a different color palette was applied – one that was less bright and yellow and created a cooler color tone – the preset was created from another image. (See my Flagler Beach Pier image for color palette used.) This layer was set to Color blend mode. The final steps are what I generally do when finishing up a regular photo image. Not all my steps were used here but a lot of them. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. On another stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to shift the focus back over to the bird from the barn. On a New Layer a little spatter brush was used to give the grass a little life – I wanted it to look like little bugs flying around. A soft orange Light Leak was added to the top left for a bit of color in the sky. A Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was added to pull the whole image together. The last step was to add a layer style to the edge for a soft brown border – just an Inner Shadow set to Normal blend mode, brown color, Distance 0, Choke 53, and Size 29; and Inner Glow set to Saturation blend mode, Opacity 100%, white color, Softer Technique, Edge, Choke 0, and Size 250 pixels. Know this got a little long, but it is a pretty good example of how to pull a composite effect together once the texture is chosen.

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Below are two examples of using basically the same elements in the same place but used with different textures that give a totally different look. Digital Art image of fur trees and a deerThis image used a really colorful background texture that I created using a whole bunch of the brushes in Grut’s Inky Leaks Splatter Brushes, which are fabulous brushes. Here is a link to how this texture was used before. It gives a subtle effect especially in the sky in the above. Here is a quick run-through of the steps using a very similar workflow. The tree was created using the PS Tree filter again (the Pine Tree 2 was used) and duplicating and flipping it to make a second one. The deer element is from Tara Lesher (could not get weblink to work). Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes were used. The flower under the large tree is actually from a recent Checking Out the Buds Tidbits Blog. I try to save out anything that could be used again for other images. The flying ducks are also from the Flypaper Bird set above. A light leak was added on right side. A Van Gogh preset was applied in Topaz Impression 2 – a layer mask was used to paint back the deer, birds and tree trunks. Three more textures were used get even more of a painterly look: one of mine which had yellow and a slight bluish vignette around it and set to Darken blend mode at 57% layer opacity (used Topaz Texture Effects in PS to create it), 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog). The Grey Collection 3 was set to Overlay blend mode, and her Ancient 1 set texture 2 was set to Linear Light at 28% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust focus. Last step added a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Candlelight preset – it was set to Linear Burn at 10% layer opacity. Pretty much the same as above but very different result.

In the image below I wanted to show how a different texture gives a very different result. It contains the same basic elements except that the grass was created using Aaron Blaise‘s Foliage brush set and Directional Fur and Hair brush set. I was really surprised what nice flowers and grass can be created with these brushes. The texture is another one I painted in Corel Painter. The font is called Winter Holidays. I am not sure I have ever used this texture before but I like it. The reason this image looks so different is that the PS Lighting Effects filter was used to set the lighting on the right side. Otherwise the image was post-processed as the first one.

Digital image of fur trees and a deerThis is something to try when you do not feel so inspired. There always seems to be some texture that will get you interested in creating. Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blog:
How to Make a Basic Composite Image
Creating Winter Wonderland Effect!
How to Create an Image From Nothing!


LET’S NOT FORGET TOPAZ RESTYLE – ONE OF THE BEST FILTERS YOU CAN GET!

Image of a white Bird of Paradise bloom
Made it through the first hurricane scare of the season. Therefore decided to blog about something I really love – Topaz Labs (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) hidden jewel of filters – ReStyle! I use this program so much. There are times when an image looks pretty good but something is missing. Sometimes the colors don’t feel quite right together. This is when ReStyle is at it’s best. The above image was an example of this. When it was opened in Photoshop and after doing all the magic I could do, it still just did not look quite right. After applying ReStyle, it looks much better to me. So how do you get this result?

The filmstrip shows thumbnails of the original image from LR along with four different presets applied. Additional changes to the sliders in the presets would need to be made to get the best results, but ReStyle makes it easy to get a good basic idea of what other color combinations would do to the image.

Filmstrip image of various ReStyle preset results

The really fun part is adjusting the five major color sliders using the Hue, Sat and Lum sections, just like in LR’s HSL Panel after selecting a preset. The opacity and blend mode can also be changed for just this ReStyle section – in other words the original colors can be brought back into the image a little, and blend modes can be applied to just the ReStyle section. Very subtle results can be achieved when this is done and can really change how the image looks. And even better, the same type of adjustments can be done for the Basic Section also. I am not one who generally likes to apply presets to my images, but this filter is a preset driven program with several hundred presets to make a choice from. This should one of the first Topaz filters people would get, especially for the creative PS user – and it is so easy to use.

This week I did a quick video to show how this same image was used in ReStyle using different settings. This shows how the interface works. Note that the image is not finished up in the video, more work needs to be done on the image, but the overall ReStyle effect is rather nice. For the top image, a Lucis Pro filter was used to sharpen up the edges a little and a gray texture set to Subtract blend mode at 70% layer opacity was added before going into ReStyle. To finish up the image after ReStyle, a Curves Adjustment Layer was applied to bring back some contrast and a slight vignette was used.

I do not know if Topaz is planning to incorporate ReStyle into its Topaz Studio 2 line-up of filters. It is absolutely one of the most unique filters you will find – just about on par with Impression. I will say that Topaz Studio 2 does include a pretty nifty Color Theme filter where five different colors that can be changed in your image, and it has nine presets in a drop-down menu to choose from. It also has the ability to customize the colors, but it is not nearly as easy to do. I will try to do a follow-up on this Topaz Studio 2 filter in the near future. And check out my related blogs below – the first ones explains how to get ReStyle to use just the colors in your image and then lets you apply all their slider settings. This is also a very easy way to do some slight adjustments to colors in your image.

Hope everyone is having a good month – busy with school starting and weather changing! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

How to Use a Topaz ReStyle Trick for Improving Your Image
Digital Lady Syd Reviews Topaz ReStyle


HOW TO USE THE PUPPET WARP TOOL CREATIVELY – RECYCLED

Image of a white rose from Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida
This week I am recycling another one of my “oldies but goodies” where the Puppet Warp is used in a pretty cool way. I added the White Rose image above from the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida, to show that the petals can be easily adjusted using the Puppet Warp Tool. The rose was much flatter and vertical, but by pinning and dragging around the points, the petals were pulled out to create a much more flattering arrangement. Also applied Topaz (for website, see my Tidbits Blog‘s sidebar) new Adjust AI filter to get the luminous petal effect. To learn the basics on how to use the Puppet Warp Tool (as in straightening buildings or objects), see my older short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! Tidbits Blog which is still good. And also check out my more recent Puppet Warp Replay Fun Photoshop Blog. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend – I am – nice to take a summer break! Enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville sign at City Walk in Orlando, FloridaJust having some fun with this week and trying some new things out. This is the sign on the restaurant for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at City Walk in Orlando, Florida. So the reason this is rather “wonky” is because I decided it looked kind of good “wonky!” This sign was at the top of the building and was not shot straight on, so the sign on the right side was further away than the side on the left. There was lots of reflection in the restaurant windows in the original since it was taken during the brightest part of the day – totally awful! And the blue lettering and the parrot were almost indistinguishable in the sign. I thought this would make a good image to experiment with the brushes created in my How to Easily Create a Photoshop Brush for Painting blog. First the image was cropped in Lightroom and then opened Photoshop where it was taken into the Edit -> Perspective Warp command to see if it could be salvaged. It actually did a pretty good job on it but there were a few disturbing areas. It was tweaked using the Edit -> Puppet Warp command and that is when it went “wonky” – I just started pulling and pushing the pins all over and got this really whimsical look that I liked – it looks like the sign is on the top of a sombrero. (For info on how to really use this tool effectively, see my short Tidbits Straightening with Puppet Warp! blog.)

It occurred to me that Puppet Warp is actually very similar to the Warp Tool in Free Transform (CTRL+T). On a New Layer on top the sky was blended using the Creative Toons Mixer brush from my linked blog. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) above, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Detail 3 was opened and an underpainting look was created. (Here are my settings: Topaz Detail 3 – used Abstraction II preset. Made changes to Tone Cyan-Red -0.69, Magenta-Green -0.12, and Yellow-Blue 0.09; Color Temperature 0.30, Tint 0.02, Saturation 0.05, and Saturation Boost 0.02; and Effect Mask – Painted out the effect off the bird’s face, trees, and Jimmy Buffett’s lettering using a Brush Strength of 0.45, Brush Size 0.11, Hardness 0.66, and Flow and Edge Aware at 1.00; and Overall Opacity set to 1.00.) This layer was set to Subtract blend mode at 89% layer opacity and on a layer mask the lettering was painted out to make the Jimmy Buffett’s lettering show up better. In the Layer Style dialog, the Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+click on the tab and pull apart) and set to 56/77 to really darken down the sky. (See my How to Use Those Handy Blend-If Sliders! blog) How I came up with this I do not know, but on another stamped layer above, the image was inverted by clicking on the layer and pressing CTRL+I – now it was all white looking. A black layer mask was added and just the same lettering was painted back. Looked terrible so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was added to turn the lettering from the ugly yellow to bright red – now you can see it. On another New Layer I used the SJ-Kahara Regular brush from my linked painting blog to paint on the sky around the the bird and trees to make them stand out a little more and add some interest to the night sky. On yet another stamped layer a Camera Raw Radial Filter was added to just the parrot’s head (hum) to bring the focus to him. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added to adjust the green color in the image and that was about it. Oh yes, lastly added Jack Davis’s Wow Texture 02 (got this style along with many others from the CD in a little gem of a book called Adobe Photoshop 7 One Click Wow)– this to give a more painterly look. Whew!

Image inside the Trolley Train Ride at Universal Studios Orlando This image was shot looking up at the center from the stairs going up to get on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios Orlando. I really loved the bright colors but was not quite sure what to do with the image. It seemed like a good candidate to try a little Puppet Warping on, so that is what you see. In Lightroom the image was cropped and Seim’s Power Workflow 4 Magic Ugly Shade Fixer preset was used to help with this issue. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, the Puppet Warp Tool was used. Once again, the mesh was turned off first. Then pins were stuck in each corner to hold the image still. The various pins were placed and dragged to get this crazy result. Back in Photoshop Topaz Adjust was opened and a preset I created called Negative Preset was applied with no changes. (Here are the settings: Global Adjustments Adaptive Exposure 0.07, Regions 50, Contrast -0.02, Brightness 0.00, Protect Highlights 0.02, and Protect Shadow; and Finishing Touches Warmth 0.18, Border Size 0.26; and Vignette Strength -1.00, Vignette Size 0.01, Vignette Transition 1.00, and Vignette Curvature 0.87.) It gave it a bit of the surreal look. 2 Lil’ Owls Studio’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Member Freebie of July 2012-57 was applied and set to Hard Light blend mode at 61% layer opacity. The Blend If This Layer black tab was split (ALT+drag tab) and set to 125/191 and the white tab was also split and set to 215/255. This pulled back some of the texture from the image to get this kind of nice effect. Her Ultimate Texture Collection Chalkboard Burgundy was applied at Soft Light and 100% layer opacity. Three New Layers were added with painting on each to smooth out the white highlights in areas that were distracting. A stamped layer was created on top and set to Multiply blend mode and a white layer mask was used to bring back the texture details in the darker areas. Another stamped layer was created and my free SJ Thin Double Edge Frame layer style was applied with the default colors. I think it turned out to look a little scary!

Image of the Giraffes in a Store Sign at Seuss Landing in Universal Studios OrlandoThis was just too much fun to stop at one image. The puppet warp was used to warp another store sign in Seuss Landing at Universal Studios. These funny giraffes are from the first Dr. Seuss book called And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. I wanted to show a painterly image that had very little brush painting done in it – all done with filters and textures. Ran the same Shake Reduction Filter in Photoshop, selected the plain blue sky using the Select -> Color Range Tool, and added Melissa Gallo’s Painted Texture called June Seashore (I do not think it is available anymore) for a bluish sky that looked like painted clouds. Next a new texture by French Kiss called Color Wash Sage was added. What really made this image get this rather grainy illustrative look was in the layer style of the layer (double click on the layer to open). The Blend Mode was set to Color Dodge at 94% opacity and 95% Fill Opacity, and the Blend If This Layer White Tab was split (ALT+drag to get a smooth transition) and set to 224/255; the Underlying Layer Black tab was split and set to 29/47 and White tab split and set to 145/177. A stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was placed on top but a huge color shift occurred. This is because the blend mode of the texture below was set to Color Dodge and this happens – to get rid of this just set the stamped layer blend mode to Color. Decided to try the whole image in Topaz ReStyle and voila, instead of a blue image, I had pinks and warm tones which I really liked. (Here are the ReStyle Settings: colors based on Orange Peel preset – ReStyle Color Style Hue Fifth 0.53; Sat Fifth 0.41; and Lum Primary -0.48; Texture Strength 0.00; Basic Color Temperature -0.31, Tint 0.61, and Saturation 0.11; Tone Black Level -0.31, Midtones -0.02, and White Level 0.02; and Detail Structure 0.38 and Sharpness 0.16.) The last step added my SJ Thin Double Edge Frame on a top stamped layer – sampled colors in the image to get the frame colors.

Sometimes it is just fun to play with the different tools and see what results you get. I think I would get bored if I did the same workflow on every piece I did. Sometimes you have to when working on a special occasion or group of images, but it is kind of nice to take a break and try something different. Until next time – Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Blend If Slider Settings to Apply to a Layer


TAKING A CREATIVE BREAK

Painted image of a Ring Tailed Lemur from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Sometimes I like to just take a break from all the techniques I am learning and do something because I feel like doing it. So this week’s blog is not really emphasizing anything, but doing what this blog is all about – “Just Having Fun!” So without further ado, here are some images I have created in the last few weeks just because it was FUN!

Not to bore everyone too much, but I will give you a few insights as to how I got a particular look for these images. This fabulous Ring Tailed Lemur above is one of my favorite recent compositions. The basis for creating this effect was a video by Jesus Ramirez called Pencil Sketch Effect from a Photo in Photoshop. His technique does not work on every image, but sometimes it gives an interesting result and it worked on this image. It gave a great beginning overall sketch of my subject that was different from others I have tried. I actually created an action to do these steps. The ugly background area had to be removed next. On more layers Photoshop’s Fan Flat Blender mixer brush (located in PS’s Converted Legacy Tool Presets -> Default Tool Presets) was selected to paint in the hair and several variations were made in the Brush Settings Panel (like changing the Brush Angle and Size, adding Shape Dynamics, and adjusting Texture settings). It was fun to do this and I like the results the new brushes created – am now using them a lot including on the bottom image.

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Dreamy Landscape
This image’s final effect turned out to be a surprise. It all started when I read a tutorial by Scott Valentine in the Kelby One Photoshop User Magazine from March 2018 called Hard Mix Tricks. There was a section about creating a Pop Art look. A Curves Adjustment Layer (which is just a placeholder to set the blend mode – any adjustment layer could have been used) was set to Hard Mix blend mode on top of the original image (see Pixabay’s Chiemsee-517997_1920) – the image now was broken down into its basic colors. Between the Curves Adjustment Layer and the original image a Black and White Adjustment Layer was set to Luminosity blend mode. The color sliders were adjusted so more colors were added back in. Now I did my own thing by adding several New Layers on top. Used David Belliveau’s super Mixer Blender Brush to smooth the mountains and water in the image. By pulling this brush up, the grass in front was created. For the details several smaller regular and mixer brushes were used. The bird is from Obsidian Dawn. To get the color palette, a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added using the Futuristic Bleak preset. Again this was just some fun that came about by playing with brushes. I think this image would look good in several different color palettes. And other brushes will definitely give some different results – I think I will be trying out this technique on other images.

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Image of a Sunda Teal (Duck) taken at the Jacksonville Zoo, Florida
This sweet duck was overall a pretty nice image and had a teal blue water background. The sketch technique was used here just like on the Lemur image. The duck was selected and placed on a layer above, the feathers were painted back in using the Mixer brushes created in the top image. The texture I made in Corel Painter and was placed behind the duck. Three different fonts were used in this image: Sunda used Blossom, Teal used Breakable, and Anas gibberifrons used Dancing Script. I like all three of these free fonts. Topaz’s (see website at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle filter was used with a preset from one of my images to unify the color.

Painting in Photoshop is not so popular, but it is very satisfying if you have a bit of a creative vein in your vision. I hope you enjoyed my images – will probably be returning back to tips and tricks but I thought I would share these. Have a good week and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms out there!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO TURN A NIGHTTIME DISASTER PHOTO INTO A KEEPER

Image of San Francisco, California, at nightHope everyone is having a great start to the New Year! It seems like there are some wonderful new Photoshop techniques being presented almost daily. What I am going to show this week is one that totally blew me away since my camera does have a lot of noise when I shoot over ISO 1000 especially. It is an older model Nikon that I can’t seem to part with and I have a ton of nighttime images that just do not look great due to the older sensor. So if you are like me, or have some images you shot before before getting a better camera, this technique may really help to salvage a few of your favorite images from the past.

It all started when I read an article by Serge Ramelli, the Adobe Lightroom guru, in Kelby One’s November Lightroom Magazine called Nighttime Photography Workflow. Yes, Kelby One (the old NAPP site) still puts out their Photoshop and Lightroom magazines just like when they used to be on the newsstand years ago. If you are a member, they are published digitally almost monthly. Below is the RAW image for the above image of San Francisco at night. I really liked the bridge lit up and the tall building on the right with the lights on, but the car and blinding lights and colors were awful! The only thing good about it was fairly sharp. What I learned from Serge’s article is that there are a few tricks to getting those night photos to pop and that you do not have to stick to the original color scheme – I really liked the cool night tones that ended up in my final image. Therefore you will see most of my images are now turned towards the cooler bluish-pink tones which I think looks much better than the ugly yellow-orange original colors. I might add that Serge has lots of very good Lightroom programs and some great tips on photographing.

Just to help everyone out, the preset has been added to my DeviantArt site so you can download it with the settings described below – zipped file is called SJ Nighttime Settings.

Original RAW photo of top image in blog
This is what was done with to the above image to get the final top image look – these are my settings so feel free to change if you like different ones. The preset (linked above for download) uses my settings shown below:

1. First I set the Profile in Lightroom (could use ACR for these same steps) to Vintage 07 with the Amount slider set to 78%. Always check through these profiles provided by Adobe (or any you may have acquired recently). This profile seems work with most of my night images.

2. Crop and straighten image. In the above the parked car roof had to be removed.

3. In the Basics Panel try making some of these adjustments – use any order you think works best on the image:

– Open the shadows up but not so much since it is a night image – in my case +63 was used. If image a lot darker than the above, use a smaller amount.

– Boost up the whites – this makes the lights in the image really pop if they do not already stand out as mine did above so it was set to 0.

– Blacks – set to reveal more of the sky but try not to add more noise. Mine was set to -7 which really did help.

– Highlights – I set mine back to -100, but in a dark image, this may too much.

– Temperature – I set mine towards blue or -80

– Clarity – really makes it pop – a +35 was used on this image.

– Vibrance – used a +24 here.

– Saturation – used more of this +33.

– Tint – +22 to give it a little of a magenta feel.

– Exposure and Contrast – these were adjusted as a last step. Only the Exposure was decreased to -98 for this image and preset.

4. Here is the tip that gives the image the depth it needs – add a Radial Filter over the midground subject – in this case the bridge area. Invert should be checked so only the inside of the filter is changed. Now slightly boost the Exposure to something like +1.47, which was used here along with Temp of 35, Tint of 35, Clarity of 41 and Whites 22 (since it really popped the lights of the bridge). Again, re-adjust these for the image being used. For this image, the Range Mask set to Luminance was used and the Range set to 95/100 so only the really light areas inside the circle were affected – that is why the lights look so vivid. If you cannot see what is happening, check Show Luminance Mask and watch as you move the sliders. Note: if you make a preset for these settings, be sure to turn off the Luminance Range Mask settings which is not needed for all image, and it will not looks right when you try to adjust the other sliders in the Radial Filter. For the preset the Radial Filter circle was left on the image with the above settings.

5. Last step involves using the Details panel and adjusting the Noise Reduction – in this case Luminance was 28 which is quite a bit and Contrast to 23. Then the Sharpening was set to 85. This is definitely a setting that you need to set yourself depending on your camera model and how much of a noise problem there is.

6. I made a preset (download shown above) with my settings so that I could reuse them on another image (with Luminance Range Mask off). Also, now that I was at a point where the image could be opened in Photoshop, it was opened sent over as a Smart Object (right click and select Edit In -> Open as Smart Object in Photoshop). This will open up ACR only if using RAW files. If needed, you can go back and adjust your settings in PS without going back to LR.

The following steps will vary depending on what will work with your image. For the one above, this is the workflow but the image below used totally different steps to remove noise and finish up the image.

7. In Photoshop the next thing done was try to sharpen and remove noise a little more by going into creating a duplicate layer and going into Topaz (for website see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog) Studio.  Their AI Clear adjustment was selected and these settings were applied:  Auto Noise Reduction and High Sharpening. The Precision Contrast Adjustment was added in Studio also and these settings were used: Micro, Low and Medium Contrast set to 0.30 and High set to -0.30. The last Adjustment selected was Dehaze set to a Strength of 0.52. Apparently their Dehaze filter is much superior to the one in Lightroom or ACR. I also find it is pretty good so I apply it using this filter.

8. Finished up with a Tone Curve to darken down the image to add contrast.

A couple things that can be also done to enhance these images. If another Radial Circle needs to be added to fix an image, go ahead and try it. To duplicate the one already in the preset, just right click it and select duplicate – then drag to the new location. If new settings need to be used, just click the New button. Also, add a Gradiant Filter or two if the foreground or background needs to be darkened some. And for the really hard to adjust area, just brush the settings in. Lightroom and Camera Raw are so flexible.

Below is another example of an image that was really bright yellow and did not look good at all.

Image of the Firehouse on Main Street at Disney WorldThis image followed pretty much the same steps as above – used the preset I created for the first image and just adjusted for this one. The Radial Filter had to be adjusted and the Luminance Range Mask set for this image. But this time in Photoshop, did a couple different things. Used Imagenomics Noiseware‘s default to remove more noise – it worked wonders! I always try different ways as sometimes one will not work but another will. This is not a new filter, but it is one of the best out there. The Fireworks was from Design Textures but it is pretty easy to create your own (see one of my older blogs called Faking Fireworks!). at A little clean up was done and the last step was to open up Topaz ReStyle and applied the City Lights II preset. A few sliders were adjusted in the plugin to tweek the colors. That is all that was done and the image now has a very Disney look. Below is the original image and another example of how Topaz ReStyle can change an image’s look, even a night one. This time the Royal Blue and Apricots preset was applied to give a much more Disney feel to it, but not what I would do to most of my nighttime images.

Original of the Disney Main Street image Alternate image of the Firehouse on Main Street USA-Magic Kingdom
Technique may or may not work on every image, and the image needs to be really sharp to get good results. I have a few images where the noise just could not be removed, but most work pretty well with this preset and a few tricks in Photoshop.

Hope everyone will give this a try – it really surprised me how good some of my image could be. Hope everyone has a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM DIGITAL LADY SYD

Christmas Greetings CardJust wishing everyone a Wonderful Holiday. This little bird was from a set called Watercolor Russian Birds by Anna Faun and the breast was turned red using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer, my Santa and Reindeer PS brush, and Julie Mead’s A Winter Lullaby White Tree and Green Tree stacked. The lights on tree were from Corel Particle Shop using the Cluster brush. Several different textures were stacked and my snow overlay was placed on top. Finished off the image by going into Topez (see sidebar my Tidbits Blog for website link) ReStyle and applying the Snow Cover II preset. So much fun to do Christmas Cards! Hope everyone is having a good one!……Digital Lady Syd


THREE VIEWS OF AIR BALLOONS AT EPCOT’S THE LAND PAVILION

Inside the Land Pavilion at Epcot CenterJust doing a quick blog this week – this image from The Land Pavilion at Epcot Center, Disney World-Orlando, just caught my eye this week. This may be my favorite place to see when I visit Epcot – never get tired of all their exhibits. Depending on the time of day, different versions can be seen.

In Lightroom Dave Delnea’s Backlight_Horizontal_Right preset (these appear to be unavailable at this time) was applied. It gave the original lighting effect from the window that was needed to create this image. The Camera Profile was called Crisp Warm Soft (from the LUT file in Photoshop – Matt Kloskowski gave it away). Basic section changes were done and the Graduated Filters were adjusted to fit the image correctly from the preset. Then went into Photoshop to finish up.

The background layer was duplicated and taken into Luminar 2018 (for website link, see my Tidbit Blog sidebar). My favorite Joel Grimes Indian Summer preset was applied on the bottom layer. (To download his free presets from Luminar, open the stand-alone version, click on More Presets button which opens up Microsoft Edge in Windows, choose Presets and scroll down to his Pro Photographer and Artist Presets-Joel Grimes. There are several free and inexpensive categories here. To load them in the program, go to File -> Load Custom Presets Pack – they will then show up as one of the Categories that can be selected. Joel gives us 6 presets and they are all great!) Then the Sunray Filter was added to Layer 0 – just played with the light until something looked good. Back in Photoshop, Shadowhouse Creations Dust Particle brushes were loaded and some light and dark dust was sprinkled around in the Luminar sunrays to get a reflected light effect. The last steps involved my normal workflow: added a spotlight effect on the air balloons facing the light, used a Curves Adjustment Layer to add a little over-all contrast, and lastly, on a stamped layer applied Nik Viveza 2 to sharpen the air balloons and direct the focus to them.

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Image of the beautiful air balloons at the Land Pavillion at Epcot, Disney World OrlandoThis image is a view taken from the other side of the room on a different day and time. You can see the air-balloons much better. Used another preset by Dave Delnea called Highlight Warming Look 3 and a few Basic slider adjustments in Lightroom. Then in Photoshop the Background layer was duplicated and Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbit Blog sidebar) ReStyle was opened. The Tangerine Gauze preset was used and set to Multiply blend mode at 50% opacity. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added for some contrast. Then Nik Viveza 2 was opened on a stamped layer to adjust the focal point just a little. That was it – I loved the detail that can be seen in this version.

Below is an older image previously posted to Flickr before I was blogging that is still different. It appears a Lucis Pro effect was added, an Ash bright green Texture 8 (which is not available anymore – it was my first set of textures I ever bought) set to Overlay blend mode, and a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer. Pretty basic but it has a nice feel to it.

Image of air balloons from Epcot several years agoAnd here is a link to a blog where Topaz Impression was used on the image called Hot Air Balloons the Disney Way. Wish I could go to Disney and Epcot all the time – it is a perfect place to get gorgeous pictures. It is always fun to see the beautiful hanging air balloons throughout the years – I hope they do not change them. And The Land Pavilion has several exhibits that are always fun to photograph. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd


RELAXING AND HAVING FUN IN PHOTOSHOP!

Image of a painted bird on a branchSometimes when you get so busy blogging about cool things you can do in Photoshop, you forget about just having fun with what you already know how to do. I have not blogged a lot recently as I am trying to catch up on my creative side and just have some fun. This week I am showing a few things I have been doing to just enjoy myself.

The above is an image trying to emulate a piece of art called Bird on a Flowering Branch by Watanabe Seitei, a famous Japanese painter, created in 1887. My image does not look a whole lot like his, but it gave me a good place to begin a composition. I don’t see anything wrong with trying to emulate a piece of really good art as long as it is not a direct copy. I think it is a great way to learn so that is what I did. A Kim Klassen Cloth & Paper texture called huges was placed on the bottom to give a nice layer effect to build on. The paint spatter underneath the piece is in a free set called Oh La La Llama by principesca. Then the branches were painted in and the painted bird is from one of my bird images. The flowers are from another free set called All Ginko Textured Watercolor Graphics by Paperly Studio – these are beautiful floral elements. All the layers had to be juggled around a little and opacities adjusted. On a stamped layer, Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was used to further blend in the correct colors and soften them a little. That was about it. I need to take some more pix of little birds to create some more of this type of image – it was very relaxing and fun to do.

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Image about creating a Ham Salad SandwichCreated this image using several items from one of my favorite places to get reference objects – PixelSquid. They had the meat grinder, the basil, the scale, the sandwich, the plate, everything but the wonderful recipe by Kelly at Wildfleur’s Cottage Kitchen. It appeared to be pretty close to the one my mom made since I do not have her recipe. Every now and then the meat grinder would appear on the counter and low and behold, there was a ham salad sandwich! To learn how to add PixelSquid objects, check out my How to Use the PixelSquid Add-on in Photoshop blog. Several textures were then applied to really soften the image and get a vintage feel. These are all ones I made and just removed the color from them. Pretty simple. The font is called Mr. Grieves.

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Image of a vintage waffle iron and kitchen cannistersThe Hogan House and Museum has recently been designated as an historical home in Bunnell, Florida (Flagler County). It has some really nice period pieces including the old waffle iron on the counter. First Luminar 2018 (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) was applied using Joel Grime’s Dramatic Detail preset (his presets are all pretty good so if you own the program, try to download them). The same textures applied at different opacities as the ham sandwich image were also used on this one. A couple Gradient Map Adjustment Layers and a Curves Adjustment Layer were used for the final result.

I guess I have been in a vintage mood recently. It is nice to take a break and just work with your images to give them a look you like – not just what you see. I could almost imagine being back in time. Well hope everyone is not too hot – this summer has been a really warm one! Stay cool and create something fun!…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO ADD A SKETCH EFFECT QUICKLY

Image of a Japanese Festive Doll This week I wanted to say that I will be taking several weeks off from blogging (after 7 1/2 years of this) to take care of a few other things on my list. Will be popping in as time allows and will definitely not be closing my site. Just a temporary break as these blogs take some time to do and my schedule is currently a bit limited. That being the case, I will present a quick sketch tip today that was used on the above image of a Japanese Festive Doll at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island.

First began by creating a sketch effect. This was one I had forgotten about from the great Photoshop guru, Corey Barker, who used it in a tutorial a long time ago. This effect was first done on the doll image and then on the background image. This technique can be done on just one image also. Make sure you have all the clean up that needs to be done on the image(s) and also make sure the image is a sharp as you wanted. The background was from an image on  Unsplash by Sorasak of Kyota, Japan – when opened in Photoshop, it had a resolution of 72 so this had to be changed: go to Image -> Image Size and uncheck the Resample box – change the resolution to 300; then click the Resample box again and set to Bicubic Sharper (reduction) since the size of the actually image gets much less (though still pretty big). Now to create the Sketch Look.

  1. Duplicate the background and desaturate the image. This can be done quickly by either pressing CTRL+ALT+U (Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate), or could add a Black & White Adjustment Layer, or a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer set to Black and White gradient or a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer with the Master Saturation set to -100.
  2. Create a stamped layer on top (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and set the layer to Divide blend mode. Now you see a sketch effect.
  3. Go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to a sketch effect you like. The doll was set to 5.5 pixels and the background to 24.9 pixels which gave a heavier look to the lines of the city. There is your sketch.
  4. To add color back into the image, duplicate the bottom background layer and place it on top. Add a black layer mask to this layer and gently dab into the mask with a lower opacity brush. The color will appear very much like an illustrated watercolor effect. On this layer, other filter effects can be used like from Topaz  (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Studio or Nik Color Efex Pro 4 to give a different color and look to the color being brought back into the image. Or add another copy on top of this layer to get even more effects into the image.

For the doll, another 2nd copy of the background was placed on top, then CTRL+I was pressed on the layer thumbnail to invert the colors. A black layer mask was added and just a bit of complementary color was added back into the image to add interest.

To finish the image, the doll was selected using the Quick Selection Tool and Select and Mask in Photoshop. The layer was then taken into the Kyota image where the sketching and light color effect was already done. A stamped layer was created and then Topaz Adjust’s Setting Sun preset was applied. A Levels Adjustment Layer was used to bring back some of the image contrast and then on another stamped layer Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Travertine Tint was added. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used to add more contrast back into the image. Some clean up and a watercolor edge was done to complete the image.

Well I hope you get a chance to try out this sketch technique. It is pretty easy to do and works rather nicely, especially if you want to add some color back into the image. I will be returning in a few weeks……Enjoy the Spring!…..Digital Lady Syd


SOME CREATIVE EXPRESSION IN PHOTOSHOP

Image of a bird on the side of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, ScotlandThis week I am taking a break from the technical aspect of Photoshop and am presenting a couple images which is what I consider was a lot of fun create in Photoshop. Usually when I do creative art, I start out going in one direction and end up in another. Many times there are several iterations of an image I really like, which happened in this first image – it looks pretty good in blue tones and warm tones.

The image above is from Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland. I love to photograph the interesting details in the historical architecture that is so prevalent in Europe. The workflow for this image was actually pretty simple. Just using my basic workflow and through in a bit of Nik Viveza 2, Topaz ReStyle and several Adjustment Layers. This was definitely created with a lot of experimentation.

The image below went a totally different direction where the elements were added onto a blank layer.

Colorful image of an Egret's PlaygroundThis Heron had this crazy idea of what he would like to be his playground. I just had to follow his lead and created this rather “groovy” looking image. Started with this really beautiful background from Unsplash by Steve Johnson that had all the bright colors in it.Then just used several elements – some I created and a few are from other people. The really weird line art in this image is from a large Cruise Ship at night taken from a small sailboat – got sort of a creepy result that looks kind of good here but was very scary when you actually are there! My bird chose it anyway. All the elements were added to New Layers also. The sunflower is from PixelSquid. The bee is one I painted. The Tree is also from PixelSquid and the Heron is my pet, the little guy from Graphics Fairy – painted him up a bit with one of my favorite Grut charcoal brushes, Shin Ding which adds great texture on anything, to give him some matching color. The Grass is from Frostbo Set 1 Grass 03 brush. I actually added a little touch of Impasto effect on the orange block on the left using a blank layer set to 0 Fill opacity and painting with the Grut Shin Ding brush to add the texture on it. Last step I added the border using the one I created in my video and blog on my How to Create a Quick Layer Style Border or Frame.

One thing I have learned is not to throw out those really weird images you get – sometimes they can turn into something quite  interesting! Hope you enjoyed it! Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


TOPAZ STUDIO – SHOULD I UPGRADE?

Image of colorful bikes at Flagler College Just enjoying a little Topaz Studio and trying to really understand the program. Bike image is from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. (See Image 1 below to see what Topaz Studio adjustments were used to get this effect.) Will be skipping a week of blogging. Several people are very confused and uncomfortable about upgrading. I understand the hesitation since the upgrade into the new Studio interface has not been easy to understand. From the software engineer’s perspective, it has probably been a nightmare since the various plug-ins do very different things and they have to be retooled to work together. Some of the Studio plug-ins have some good updates that really help the program. Others, maybe not so much. I can only say this, even if you update to Topaz Studio, you will have the Topaz Labs filters still available and can be used on a layer in PS as before. I use them often, mainly for one reason – all my personal presets are still in the Labs plug-ins and Topaz Studio cannot reproduce lots of them. With many of my presets I just have not had the time to update them.  Therefore, it is probably okay to upgrade to the free Studio interface since you will still have the Topaz Lab versions available in the Filter menu. And not only that, if you are in Studio and want to access one of the other plug-ins, just go to the Menu and select Plug-ins – they are also all there with their original interface. I find that having the Studio Clarity (the Precision Contrast adjustment) and Detail (the Precision Detail adjustment) available in one location is very handy – together they give some startling sharpness! And oddly enough, the actual Impression Adjustment has some decent beginning settings and the Painting Progress slider gives some very interesting results. If you download the free Topaz Studio (for download link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog), any Topaz plug-ins will be automatically added into the interface (PS lists this as Filter->Topaz Studio-> and the different types – while the Filter -> Topaz Labs are not touched). It will look different and some experimentation will need to be done, but there are lots of new options since the different adjustments from the different original plug-ins can be stacked to get even better looks.

List of Topaz Labs plug-ins currently added into Topaz Studio

At this point, here is a list of the filters that are now included in the Studio interface and which filters create the basic filter. If you owned the Topaz Labs filters, all the Studio adjustments filters will show up without buying the Pro Pack extra adjustments. To find the incorporated filters, need to go to the preset pop-out and click on the square icon with three horizontal lines in it. Set the Sort By to Featured. The first preset will indicate the Studio Adjustment workflow for each filter (for example, select Clarity and choose top preset called Clarity Workflow – the two adjustments to create the basic filter will be shown).

Clarity – Studio Adjustments are Precision Contrast and HSL Color Tuning (look at the Topaz Labs version and it is broken down into these two main components). Topaz did bring over my created presets with this filter and they also appear in the My Effects Group.

Detail – Adjustments include Precision Detail, Channel Mixer, and Basic Adjustment. (The Topaz Labs version was broken down into Detail and Tone, the Channel Mixer which is the Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green, and Yellow-Blue sliders, and the Basic Adjustment which basically contains the other Tone and Color sections’ sliders). Several of these I reproduced.

Glow – Adjustments include Glow, HSL Color Tuning, Vignette, and Smudge. (The Topaz Labs version has sections called Primary and Secondary Glow with same sliders that pop out in some cases in Studio, Color which is the same as the HSL Color Tuning, and Finishing Touches which includes the Smudge slider). None of my presets were brought over from the Labs version.

Impression – Only contains the Impression Adjustment. My presets were brought over from Topaz Labs and also appear in My Effects group.

Simplify – Contains Abstraction, Edges, and Quad Tone adjustments. None of my presets came over from Topaz Labs.

Textures – Contains the Basic Adjustment, Edge Exposure, and Quad Tone adjustments. No presets were brought over from Topaz Labs. They have added in new textures from 2 Lil Owls Studio and Hazel Meredith.

Image of Mountains from Unsplash and Jon FlobrantThis image contains exactly the same settings as the image above except a 2 Lil Owls Studio Texture Adjustment was added at the bottom of the stack. (See image below for more information.) Image from Unsplash and Jon Flobrant.

Image of Palm Trees from Castillo de San Marcos fortThis image is of some palm trees taken on the top of the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida – the creative coloring was done in Topaz Studio. I find a lot of the tips for Studio by watching the videos Topaz Labs supplies. Even if you do not like what the presenter is creating, often you can get a couple good ideas for some presets that make for some good results. That is what happened on this one. First a preset that I made from some of the settings in Hazel Meredith’s video called Texture Effects and Topaz Studio that I named SJ Graphic Sketch 1 (it is available in the Community on line) – makes for a very nice black and white image. This was applied and a preset called Cartoon Grid from Topaz that gave the partial colored effect. (See Image 3 below for more information on this image.) I saved it down as a project file .tsp file, but it did not take. So at this point I am not sure this format is really safe to use. Luckily I had noted the settings.

I hope this has helped a few of you decide to try out Studio. It is a pretty nice program overall and it will get better as they add more Topaz Labs plug-ins and new features into it. But it will probably take a while to get it all finished I am sure. In the meantime, parts of it are really good. Have a very good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image 1: This image was first opened in Lightroom and just the Basic Panel was used before opening up in Photoshop. The next step was to duplicate the image and open Topaz Studio. These are the settings that were used: Precision Contrast: used Highlight Dynamic Range in dropdown; Abstraction: Used JWolfson Painting Prep in drop-down (Joel explains how to create this in his Topaz Labs video he did this week – I will add link when it is posted), then changed Simplify Size to 0.24; Impression SJ Colored Pencil preset: changed Stroke Width to -78, Stroke Length to -0.85, and spill -1.00, then set Texture to Solid; and used HSL Color Tuning – changed Orange Sat -0.40, Yellow Sat 0.55, Aqua Sat 0.63, and Blue Sat 0.39 and Lightness 0.13, and Details 0.50; Created Subtle Colored Pencil preset which is posted in the Community presets if you would like to use it. Back in PS, used a Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Nick Viveza 2 to add a slight vignette in corners, and a Levels Adjustment Layer setting Output levels to 31/255 and regular settings 0/0.76/255 – gives the slight matte feel.

Image 2: The Unsplash image was opened in Topaz Studio stand alone program and used exactly the same steps above except the HSL Color Tuning sliders were used to adjust the colors in this image and a Texture from 2 Lil Owls was added at 28% layer opacity and Luminosity blend mode. It was opened in PS and the same steps as used above were done.

Image 3: Three images were taken into Aurora 2018 HDR from Lightroom to begin post-processing. This gave a really nice sharp image back in LR. It was then taken into PS and the background layer was duplicated. Brought image into STO from PS. First Version Applied Graphic Sketch L and set to Effect Opacity 0.53; Made a few slight changes to Basic Adjustment to Exposure -0.05, Clarity 0.52, Shadow -0.32, Highlight -0.50, Black Level -0.33 and White Level 0.68; Precision Contrast Opacity 0.88 and Multiply blend mode, Micro 0.18, Low 0.20, Medium 0.93, Lighting Shadow -0.31, Midtone 0.37, Highlight 0.47, Medium; Brightness Contrast Opacity 0.44, Brightness 0.29, Contrast 0.91, and Saturation -1.00; Tone Curve – left as set; Smudge Strength 0.11, Extent -0.34, and Sharpness 0.21; Bloom hooked to Smudge set to 0.70 opacity and Screen bm, Strength 0.40, Threshold 0.62, and Bloom size 0.25; Abstraction Color Space RGB, Simplify Size 0.41, Feature Boost 0.16, Detail Strength 0.20, Detail Boost 0, and Detail Radius 0.25 with Radiance set to Screen blend mode hooked to it, Radiance Type Dark, Strength 0.82, Width 0.29, Length 0.73, Curl 0, Suppress Weak 0.12, Sat 0.76, Coverage 1.00, Fade 0.11 and Sat 0; Duplicated this version and set same settings to Effect Opacity of 1.00. Created a preset called SJ Graphic Sketch I. Duplicated this version and applied the settings above. Then applied preset called Cartoon Gold with some changes: Brightness Contrast Adj: Contrast 1.54; Smudge Strength 0.10, Extent -0.38, and Sharpness 0.02; Abstraction Adj 0.58 layer opacity, Color Space RGB, Simplify Size 0.93 and Detail Radius 0.25; Dual Tone Opacity 0.29 and Saturation blend mode; Highlight Color 1.00, Highlight 0.16, Shadow Color 0.34, Shadow Hue 0.05, and Balance 0.45. Back in PS just my regular workflow: a Red Channel Curves Adjustment Layer, Nik Viveza 2 to adjust color on the trees, and a Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode.


COLORIZING NASA PHOTOS USING TOPAZ STUDIO (AND CHECK OUT UPDATED DETAIL)

Image of Saturn's Rings from Cassini Mission
This beautiful image was originally a black and white taken on one of the last days of the NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission using its Wide Angle Lens. The Moon Tethys is in the upper left background. My original thought was to just try painting different colors into the rings to get an unnatural but pretty color effect. To my surprise, Topaz Studio using both Clarity and the new Detail adjustments were a quick answer to get the beautiful result.

Here is the workflow followed to get the above results:

  1. First downloaded the image from the NASA Cassini-Huygens Mission site – scroll halfway down to find image pia21342-1041 where both tiff and jpeg files can be downloaded. The image above used the tiff file, but the jpeg file worked out pretty good even though it had such a small resolution. (The bottom image of Mimas was two jpeg files that were 59 and 67 KB.)
  2. Open in Photoshop and go to Image -> Mode -> Grayscale and change image to RGB.
  3. Go to the Image -> Image Size – set resolution to 300 by unchecking the Resample box, enter 300, and recheck (the jpeg file is at 72 ppi but the tiff file is 300). Can now go in and change size in inches and set to Preserve Details (enlargement) in drop-down menu if needed. Can also Reduce Noise if noticeable at this point.
  4. Duplicate image and open Topaz Studio – apply my SJ Saturn Rings. The preset has been uploaded to the Topaz Community. The colors were set in the Color Theme Adjustment so the colors in the rings can be changed to any colors wanted by just clicking on each square in the New Color Theme settings swatches and selecting new colors.
  5. Added a Green Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer to increase the contrast just in the green channel. (Same technique as using a Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer – see my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.)
  6. Since Detail was just added to Studio, a composite image (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) was created above and went back to Topaz Studio -> Detail. Since I am having trouble with my presets and am working with the Tech Team, the settings are just listed here (Detail in TSO – Overall-Overall Small Detail 0.34, Small Detail Boost 0.67, Medium Detail 0.51, Medium Detail Boost 0.31, Large Detail 0.53, and Large Detail Boost 0.31, Lighting Midtones 0.29 and Highlights 0.63. In layer mask painted out the rings and left the background dark to keep noise under control – used brush set to Mask Transparency 0.80. Channel Mixer Adjustment – Adjusted Lightness Channel-Red 1.73, Green -0.23, and Blue 0.34, then painted out background so only just the rings received the effect). Back in PS the layer was set back to 80%.

That is all that was done to this image. It was a lot of fun and I love the results, even though the rings are not quite those colors. The point is that it took only a few minutes to do this image – no hand painting – it just picked up the colors. The Color Theme Adjustment did most of the color work and then Detail’s new Color Mixer Adjustment tweaked it a bit.

NASA image of Saturn's Moon MimasThis updated Detail is much like the updated Clarity as it is also divided into two adjustments: Precision Detail and Color Mixer. Since it just came out, I do not have much experience working with all the sliders – the Channel Mixer Adjustment appears quite different from the original Topaz Detail 3 interface. But I am enjoying having the sliders available for quick use when needed. Here is a quick reminder of what some of the sliders do in the new Precision Detail Adjustment:

Small Details – Affects visibility of fine details in image

Small Boost – Weakens or strengthens the smaller details

Medium Details and Medium Boost – Affects visibility of the medium details with Boost weakening or strengthening the effect

Large Details and Large Boost – Adjusts visibility of the large details with Boost weakening or strengthening the effect

Sharpen – a new slider added – it does seem to add in more detail.

There is a new section called Lighting which contains sliders for Midtones, Shadows, Highlights, Black Point and White Point – same sliders from Detail 3 except the Midtones slider has been added and the Exposure and Contrast sliders are now removed.

The Channel Mixer Adjustment was also added to complete the update of the old Detail 3. It contains a totally new interface from the original Tone section that contained Cyan-Red, Magenta-Green, and Yellow-Blue sliders – these correspond to the Red, Green and Blue channels in this adjustment. There is also a Gray swatch which represents the Lightness of the image. I need to find out more on these sliders, but each have Red, Green, Blue, and Constant sliders. In the Adjustment Preset drop-down, there are several presets (Cloudy Evening, Faux Infrared Landscape, Red Contrast, and Red Green Switch) that can be tried out to see what happens with these sliders. A Maintain Brightness and Monochrome toggle switches were also added. Lot to explore here.

The image above is a composite of an upper and lower level NASA images taken in March 2017 from the same site. Topaz ReStyle was used to introduce the color palette. Topaz Studio’s Precision Detail Adjustment, Color Theme Adjustment, and Impression Adjustment were all used to get this almost poster like effect. For the Precision Detail Adjustment, a layer mask was opened and Luma was selected so just the moon was selected and the background was black – Luminosity slider 0.11 and Range 0.01. In PS Saturn was added in on separate layers with some brushes I had created a long time ago. On a final stamped layer on top, Nik Viveza 2 was used to soften the rough edges between the sharp shadow lines of the moon.

A couple of things I noticed – it appears that they are removing the older versions of the plug-ins in the Plug-ins drop-down and just adding them into the Studio Adjustment lists. Am checking on this as I would like to have the old ones still available. Also, there appears to be the original category preset choices on the left side that correspond to the plug-in being used by clicking on the drop-down menu under the Search field.

Try downloading some of the wonderful imagery from NASA and see if you can create a magical feel. Just remember all the beautiful Hubble images were originally black and white images and the colorization used is similar to what was created in this blog. Hope you have a wonderful weekend…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:

Updated Impression Now in Topaz Studio
Updated Clarity Now in Topaz Studio
Introducing the Free Topaz Studio
Flowers Enjoying a Planetary Twilight Sky


GET INSPIRED USING YOUR FAVORITE TEXTURES

Digital painted image of a farm sceneLots of times I have found or created a texture I really like that I would like to use in an image but not sure where. So this is a blog on how to create images for that texture, and possibly get your creative mind going. Not particularly a new concept, but a little different approach for using texture. It also gives you a chance to brush up on your compositing skills and try out some nature brushes. The image above is an example of my using a texture that I created in Corel Painter and used in this image originally.

There are not a lot of steps to this process. Just open the texture above a white Background layer in case the texture needs to be set to a different blend mode or opacity amount. Next add elements and/or text, and finally do the finishing steps as if post-processing an image.

That is exactly what was done above – here is the workflow for this image to demonstrate the steps. The texture was added and left as it is. Next Photoshop’s tree filter was used to create this pretty foreground tree. If you have not experimented with this filter, give it a try. (For more on this see my How to Create a Photoshop Artistic Tree.) It is so much fun! These are my tree settings – most of the settings were changed to get the tree effect shown above.  (Base Tree Type: 19: Fraxinus Griffithi which is an Evergreen Ash, Light Direction 85, Leaves Amount 22, Leaves Size 130, Branches Height 94, Branches Thickness 77, Uncheck Default Leaves and select 8: Leaves 8, Uncheck Randomize Shapes Arrangement 21.3.) A layer mask can always be added if you do not quite like the way the branches look – in this case some of the leaves were too dark so a 30% brush was painted over them in the mask to lighten them up. The Liquify Tool can also be used to get the branches sitting just right. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the tree to make it more golden in color to match the texture. The texture looked like a golden wheat field to me so a little red barn from PixelSquid was added – a mask was added so the bottom of the barn could be removed and hide it from view. The layer was set to 55% layer opacity so it is looks a little less sharp and more distance. I love the brushes by DeviantArt’s ninelvlsup and her Dandelion Whisps brush was used in the foreground. Some of the edges were removed with a layer mask. The birds are from a Flypaper Bird Set that I use all the time. To soften the effect of the birds, a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (ALT+click between the layers to clip) to the birds and a yellow and red pattern was used. The bird layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 77% layer opacity. The last element is the single bird from the same brush set called Big Crow Fly Birds brush – it was duplicated and the top layer was set to Multiply blend mode at 65% layer opacity to emphasize the bird a little more. The elements are now in place. A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle was opened. There a different color palette was applied – one that was less bright and yellow and created a cooler color tone – the preset was created from another image. (See my Flagler Beach Pier image for color palette used.) This layer was set to Color blend mode. The final steps are what I generally do when finishing up a regular photo image. Not all my steps were used here but a lot of them. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. On another stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to shift the focus back over to the bird from the barn. On a New Layer a little spatter brush was used to give the grass a little life – I wanted it to look like little bugs flying around. A soft orange Light Leak was added to the top left for a bit of color in the sky. A Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was added to pull the whole image together. The last step was to add a layer style to the edge for a soft brown border – just an Inner Shadow set to Normal blend mode, brown color, Distance 0, Choke 53, and Size 29; and Inner Glow set to Saturation blend mode, Opacity 100%, white color, Softer Technique, Edge, Choke 0, and Size 250 pixels. Know this got a little long, but it is a pretty good example of how to pull a composite effect together once the texture is chosen.

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Below are two examples of using basically the same elements in the same place but used with different textures that give a totally different look. Digital Art image of fur trees and a deerThis image used a really colorful background texture that I created using a whole bunch of the brushes in Grut’s Inky Leaks Splatter Brushes, which are fabulous brushes. Here is a link to how this texture was used before. It gives a subtle effect especially in the sky in the above. Here is a quick run-through of the steps using a very similar workflow. The tree was created using the PS Tree filter  again (the Pine Tree 2 was used) and duplicating and flipping it to make a second one. The deer element is from Tara Lesher (could not get weblink to work). Frostbo Grass Set 2 brushes were used. The flower under the large tree is actually from a recent Checking Out the Buds Tidbits Blog. I try to save out anything that could be used again for other images. The flying ducks are also from the Flypaper Bird set above. A light leak was added on right side. A Van Gogh preset was applied in Topaz Impression 2 – a layer mask was used to paint back the deer, birds and tree trunks. Three more textures were used get even more of a painterly look: one of mine which had yellow and a slight bluish vignette around it and set to Darken blend mode at 57% layer opacity (used Topaz Texture Effects in PS to create it), 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link, see sidebar on my Tidbits Blog). The Grey Collection 3 was set to Overlay blend mode, and her Ancient 1 set texture 2 was set to Linear Light at 28% layer opacity. Nik Viveza 2 was applied to adjust focus. Last step added a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Candlelight preset – it was set to Linear Burn at 10% layer opacity. Pretty much the same as above but very different result.

In the image below I wanted to show how a different texture gives a very different result. It contains the same basic elements except that the grass was created using  Aaron Blaise‘s Foliage brush set and Directional Fur and Hair brush set. I was really surprised what nice flowers and grass can be created with these brushes. The texture is another one I painted in Corel Painter. The font is called Winter Holidays. I am not sure I have ever used this texture before but I like it. The reason this image looks so different is that the PS Lighting Effects filter was used to set the lighting on the right side. Otherwise the image was post-processed as the first one.

Digital image of fur trees and a deerThis is something to try when you do not feel so inspired. There always seems to be some texture that will get you interested in creating. Until later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blog:
How to Make a Basic Composite Image
Creating Winter Wonderland Effect!
How to Create an Image From Nothing!


MORE SUMMER FUN

Image of a Gondola at the Alcazar Hotel in St. AugustineThis week just continuing with my playing in Photoshop – great time to enjoy it when it is so hot outside. Not sure how I came up with the Gondola at the Alcazar Hotel (Lightner Museum) in St. Augustine, Florida, but it happened. What actually happened is that I really liked the wrought-iron lights in the image – taken in noon sunlight on the hottest day – so that is how this all started.

Content-Aware Crop Tool – The image needed to be expanded to the right to make it look balanced in my eyes so the Crop Tool was selected. By stretching the outline outside the boundaries of the image and checking Content Aware, PS attempts to fill out the blank area. This turned out to look a lot like the building set to a smaller size and reversed, so that is what is shown here. Some clean up had to be done, but it is definitely something to explore if a creative element is needed for filling in your image size. And remember that if you do not like the results, just rerun the Crop Tool and a different result should happen.

The result made me think about adding Flaming Pear’s Flood filter, which is one of my favorite plug-ins of all time. And regarding the fact that these old filters will not work in your current PS – my version of this filter has been around forever and works just fine, although the link is to a newer version now available. So do not get rid of your Nik filters just yet – they may last a long time. Back to the Flood filter – I have yet to run into a filter that gives this perfect water look yet – in this case it was set to for smooth water with quite a bit of reflection. A beautiful texture by French Kiss (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) called Atelier Anemone was placed on top and set to Multiply blend mode at 47% layer opacity. A gondola seemed to be needed to create the story for the image so I just found an old gondola image and sketched out the boat and a person. Then painted in the drawing created from the image using a brush called Scraggly Brush (Charcoal Large Smear) by Kristen Palana from a fun short class at Udemy called Quick and Easy Digital Painting. The gondola and man were not supposed to look too realistic but more painterly. The little stars were from Media Militia Particle 018 brush. On a New Layer filled with 50% gray and set to overlay, black and white brushes were painted on the layer to dodge and burn the image. Next Kim Klassen’s Pumpkin Grunge texture (you can actually still download a low res version if you click the “HERE” in the text) was applied, set to Hard Light blend mode at 18% layer opacity. This is a really nice texture to add – for some reason the bright red-orange gives an interesting result. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Nik Viveza 2 was used to adjust the lighting just right in the image. A border was added and color adjusted using a Curves Adjustment Layer. Lots of other adjustments layers were added to adjust several of the layers throughout the image. Just clip (ALT+clip between the layers) them to the different layers if you want only one layer adjusted.

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Image of a butterfly on a flowerThis image is of a Monarch Butterfly that was extracted from my front yard image and placed in this fantasy garden.  GrutBrushes has a wonderful background paper called Dee Print that was placed as the background for this image. Then two beautiful brushes by ninelvlsup at DeviantArt called windflower and dandelion whisps were used for the background elements. The Warp Filter (CTLR+T, then Warp in Options Bar) and layer masks were used to get the effects needed on these elements. Aaron Blaise’s Canvas Texture Brush 46 32 was used to get the flower center texture. One of Sebastian Michael’s edges was used for the frame. 2 Lil Owl’s Workshop Texture 1 which has the star pattern in it was placed on top and only inside the frame, then set to Linear Burn blend mode at 66% layer opacity. On a stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to even out the distribution of color and tones. Topaz (for website link, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle set to the Zinneas preset was applied and set to 35% layer opacity. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was used to get this final color palette. Lots of adjustments layers again throughout the image to get the final effect. Lots of fun here!

Not sure there is a lot new here other than the Crop Tool which turned out to give an interest effect. I actually tried it on another image and got another interesting result so give it a try. And do not forget Topaz ReStyle if you own it, it can really give an image a whole different feel – another of my favorite plug-ins! Hope everyone is having a great end of summer – I know I am, although a little cooler weather would be nice……Digital Lady Syd


HAVING SOME SUMMER FUN!

Creative Text imageThis week I am just taking it easy and playing around with some text and images. Sometimes you just have to let the creative side play and see what happens! Anyway, this is how Digital Lady Syd takes a break! I just can’t get away from Photoshop! I do not usually use other individuals’ images, but for practice it is great – I do not see me getting to these beautiful mountains soon! There are many resources today if you would like to try a few new things.

In the image above a text layer was placed in a new document – the font used was from a CD bought years ago by Cosmi called 04, a fabulously fat font. The Create Warped Text icon on the Options Bar was double-clicked and in the Warp Text dialog, a Style called Arc Upper was selected with a Bend of +50%. A Stroke Layer Style was set to a Size 7 px, inside set to Color white. The Default Drop Shadow was added. Some splatter brushes from French Kiss (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) were used above and underneath the text to add the crazy effect. A Pattern Adjustment Layer using a lace pattern was clipped (ALT+Click between the layers) to add a lacy effect in some of the strokes. (The Pattern used was a black and white lace texture from a set redheadstock at DeviantArt called Lace Photoshop Patterns.) The SS-Groping 1 Flying birds are also from redheadstock and set to 73% layer opacity. One of my painted textures was placed on the bottom and a Black and White Adjustment Layer was used to desaturate it. On a composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle was applied using the Snow Cover II preset with a few adjustments to the Color and Tone sections. The lower text font was called Berlin Sans FB Demi. On a layer above the text, Grut’s FX IL Bottle Topple brush from his terrific Inky Leaks Splatter brushes was applied to slightly cover the text – set to 64% layer opacity (and do not forget to look for his free brush of the week – it is a great way to get introduced to his big selection of brushes).

Digital art image a pretty modelThe original of the woman shows her standing in the middle of some orange colored leaves – I think she looks like a princess! (See Kuoma Stock Haunted 13 for original image at DeviantArt.) The woman was extracted from the background using the Select and Mask Command. Another one of my painted backgrounds was added and a couple layers of splatters were added behind the girl. Color was added to her face and nails and hair added into the image. On a New Blank Layer heart brush was created from the Custom Shape Tool (in Options Bar select the Heart Shape and set the 2nd button to Shape; go to the Paths Panel and click the Create a Selection icon at bottom; go back to Layers Panel and fill selection with black by ALT+Backspace to fill; with Marquee Tool, select the black Heart and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name Heart). Settings for the brush are: Brush Panel’s Brush Tip Shape Spacing 25%; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter 93%, Control Pen Pressure, Angle Jitter 12; Scattering Both Axes, Scatter 1000%, Count 1, Count Jitter 0; Color Dynamics Apply Per Tip, Foreground to Background 8%, Hue 7%, Sat Jitter 2%, Brightness Jitter 7%, and Purity -36%; Transfer Opacity Jitter 20% and Flow Jitter 32% and Smoothing on. Two New Blank Layers were used to add in different colors (white and light pink) hearts – one layer’s Layer Style ws opened and set to Bevel and Emboss to add a little texture to some of the hearts. Topaz Texture Effects 2 was opened and the Breaking Down preset was applied with the Spot Mask used to remove effect from her face. Duplicated the layer and opened up the Corel Painter plug-in (I am still using the old version) – the Flame brush was selected and pink and light color flames were painted just for fun. The old frame is from the Scrapbooker itKuPilli and is in a set called Amazing Grapes (could not locate). The font with the hearts is called Fiolex Girls. On top 2 Lil’ Owls Color Bokeh Grunge Set texture 4 (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar – this is one of my favorite sets) was applied and set to 38% layer opacity.

Wintry image of Fur TreesThis is also a wonderful Unsplash photo by Johannes Plenio called Winter. I got a little carried away post-processing this image until it was brought to my attention that it looked like a raging forest fire – I thought it was an incredible sunset! (See below.) Just an example of good intentions that turned into not so good post processing. Anyway, just a little tweak from Topaz ReStyle and now it is a beautiful wintry image. So most of the dramatic changes were done in the new Topaz Studio using Sharpen, Radiance, Color Theme, Texture and HSL Color Tuning sections (I created a preset called SJ Forest Landscape in the Community if you have downloaded the plugin and would like to try it out). For more info, see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog. This created the sunset look, but also created the nice sharp tree trunks and edges. Back in PS, two Curves Adjustment Layers were used to adjust the RGB curve for contrast, and then the Color using the individual Channel Curves. Next a Levels Adjustment was applied as it just looked good. Then a Black and White Adjustment Layer adjusting the color contrast sliders just a little and then set to Luminosity blend mode. And finally a Selective Color Adjustment Layer adjusted the Yellow color so the little tree on the left showed up better – set the layer mask to black (CTRL+I inside the mask) and painted back just the tree. 5 New Blank Layers were added and set to Overlay blend mode and with a soft round brush, various areas were highlighted with white, yellow, and sky colors. The layer opacities were reduced to taste. It was now a raging fire image! Oh my gosh! Okay, here is a small image so you get the idea and see how powerful ReStyle can be.

Fiery Image of Fur TreesQuickly Topaz ReStyle was opened and the Snow Cover II preset (once again) was applied with very few changes – just a few Tone and Detail changes. It was amazing how this preset was able to transform the image. In PS a New Blank Layer was added and Grut’s FX IL Dry Grit brush was used from his set above and snow was painted lightly on the trees. My free SJ Snow2 Overlay slight Blur was added at 75% layer opacity to give some nice snow effect. The Shadowhouse Creations Snow Overlay 11 (his resources are the best!) was added to give a little more snow dimension – it was set to Screen blend mode at 70% layer opacity. The last step added Matt Kloskowski’s vignette (see my Fun Photoshop How to Create a Subtle Vignette Blog.)

Hope you got a few ideas with this sort of lazy Summer Day Blog – have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd


INTRODUCING THE FREE TOPAZ STUDIO

Image of The Eye in LondonAs you all know, I am a huge Topaz Labs fan so I have been busily figuring out what can be done with the new Topaz Studio. To link to the download, go to my Tidbits Blog sidebar which goes directly to the free download and other info on the different adjustments. I will keep this link going since Studio has it owns Topaz site. I am not ready to do a full review so I will just go over what I have learned and pass on a few thoughts. It appears to be a wonderful upgrade to their original Topaz photoFXlab from several years ago (and which I have always thought was one of their best releases). Studio acts as a hub for all the programs from Topaz you already own. It can be accessed as both a stand-alone program or as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. Studio is a basic RAW editor that contains several features similar to Lightroom or PS Camera Raw. JPG, TIFF, and PNG files may also be opened in the program. The heart of the editing lies in the various “adjustments” that are applied individually to create an overall original image effect. The London Eye image is an example of combining several of their adjustments to get the final image effect. (The Adjustments applied and saved in a preset are: Basic Adjustment, Precision Contrast, Radiance, Dehaze, Bloom and Posterize, then Reduce Noise and Vignette were applied on a separate layer.) There are also a myriad of presets on the left side that can be selected that contain several adjustments to apply in one click. This is very similar to the original photoFXlab. But now if a feature is not one you like, it can be deleted from the preset.

For starters, the program offers free adjustments to apply to your images. These 10 effects are:  Basic Adjustments (similar to photoFXlab Adjustments section), Blurs, Brightness/Contrast, Color Overlay, Dual Tone, Film Grain, Image Layer, Posterize, Tone Curves, and Vignette. Sounds a bit like Lightroom or Camera Raw doesn’t it? If you do not own Photoshop or Lightroom or know someone who does not, this is a great way to process RAW files and it is free download. The program adjustments work from the top down as opposed to bottom up like Photoshop layers. The adjustments actually look like layers, but you are unable to apply them as a group of layers as in PS, but you can create your own presets to use the same settings over again.
Image of Hillsboro Lighthouse in Pompano BeachThe Adjustment Pro Pack contains another 14 adjustments to apply more unique effects to the image. Each adjustment can be downloaded individually and  tried out for 30 days before buying. Definitely take advantage of this trial period to see how you like what Topaz is doing with this program. The Pro Pack has some really handy effects such as: Abstraction, Black and White, Bloom, Color Theme, Dehaze, Edge Exposure, Focal Blue, HSL Color Tuning, Precision Control, Radiance, Reduce Noise, Sharpen, Smudge, and Texture. I like the Precision Control Adjustment which is a contrast adder and is a lot like Clarity with the miracle Micro slider and also a pretty nifty Color slider. It is too bad it is not in the original set as it is a really nice effect. Reduce Noise takes some really good info from the Topaz DeNoise program that is so fabulous. And in Sharpen, the Lens Deblurring section is very similar to their Infocus plug-in and works wonderfully. Each of these adjustments can be duplicated and applied more than once. I believe Topaz tried to take some of the best from each of their plug-ins to make editing an image must faster. The image above is of the Hillsboro Lighthouse in Broward County, Florida, and used the Recital 001 preset in Topaz Studio. The image below was used in the stand-alone version of Studio – used Topaz ReStyle plugin’s Rusted Gray and Light Blue preset and then the Basic Adjustment. Quite a different feel to this image that was taken on a very overcast day.

Image of South Lake Worth Inlet in Southern FloridaOne of the best parts of the program is their Masking features. If you own Topaz Texture Effects 2 or Topaz Impression, the brushes and masking is very similar – but with a difference. Now the mask can have more than one way to localize the effect. Therefore the Gradient and Spot masks can both be used on the same mask or also add in the Brush or Luminance Mask – very nice! This way the adjustment can be localized to just one small area of the image. And they are using their Edge Aware technology that I have loved for years. I am missing the Burning/Dodging, Saturation/Desaturation/ and Smoothing/Detail brushes from the photoFXlab and a few of their other plug-ins like Black and White effects, but hopefully they will be added soon.

If you want to just jump right in and start using the program, check out a short video called Topaz Studio Welcome and Walkthrough by Heath Robinson of Topaz. He goes over the program interface very thoroughly. But to learn a little more about how to use the actual adjustments, check the video Intro to Topaz Studio by Greg Rastami – he gives some great ideas on how to actually use the adjustments on all types of images – very helpful! I know Topaz Labs will be coming out with many more videos as they are pros at getting their fans up to speed on their products. There are also short videos on each adjustment in case you need more info on how to use it.

As stated above, you can  still get into your regular Topaz plugins by going to the Menu Bar and selecting Plug-ins to further enhance the image. If you do apply a plug-in, it will duplicate the image in the Workspace at the bottom and now you have to finish adding effects onto the new one – there is not way to know what plug-in was applied by looking at the list in the left panel. I have had a few problems with this if I get too fancy and apply too many plug-ins. Just be aware of this. I know the Topaz group well enough to know that they are definitely working on this issue. The program is automatically updated when new versions are ready so no more downloading and executing new versions – that alone is a great new feature! Another drawback at the moment is that they do not have any tools for removing distractions like a Healing Brush Tool or Clone Stamp Tool – apparently this is going to be included in one of the next updates so watch for this. Below is a succulent plant that uses one of my presets called SJ Colorful Plant Effect that was uploaded to the community and can be found  from the preset search section of the program.

Image of a succulent plant leavesConsidering that this is a free program and it is hugely complicated, Topaz has really done a fantastic job! It is lots of fun to fiddle around with all the different adjustments and try out other presets – I can see that they will be fine-tuning this program as it continues to grow and will be a real contender in the RAW field down the road. Lots to check out and some incredible effects can be created! I will be using the plug-in more in the future and try to keep everyone updated on all the new software additions. In the meantime I would suggest you download it and enjoy! ….Digital Lady Syd


10 NOT SO WELL KNOWN PHOTOSHOP TIPS

Image of Native American Festival BlanketsRecently I have been watching many Photoshop videos. This week I thought I would share some quick tips that I am finding to be very handy. These may be obvious things to many of you, but all of the tips below were new to me. For info on the Blankets image taken at the Native American Festival, see bottom of blog.

Add Noise to Bring an Image Together

This really works and looks nice, especially if a texture was added for a background or creating a composite. Just go to Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur and set all sliders to 0 except the Noise slider which is set to 4 and Distribution Uniform. Very subtle but nice effect.

Overscrolling

Okay – this is something that I never knew was in Photoshop, but what a major time-saver it is (unfortunately it is not in CS6)! We all know pressing the SPACEBAR turns any tool into the Hand Tool, but did you know it can be used to also move the image around the workspace? Go to Edit ->Preferences -> Tools and check the Overscroll box. That is is! What a time saver. Now the image still stays attached as a tab, but it can be moved around to avoid panels opening in the workspace or for close up painting.

Rotate View Tool

Here is a tool I have never used much but will be. It is indispensable when trying to paint in a certain direction or draw black lines around objects. The Rotate View Tool (R) icon is hidden behind the Hand Tool in the Toolbar. Need to select it and then click on your document. A large star-shaped pointer icon appears that indicates the direction of the image – adjust by spinning the document to the angle needed. The cool thing to know is this tool has a “springboard” R key – this means that while painting, just hold down the R key and the pointer icon will appear in the image to readjust the angle, let go, and continue painting! To return image to upright, just double click on the icon or press the ESC key. It is very quick and handy to use. Try it and I bet you will like it also!

Printing Out the Steps to an Action

The individual action steps cannot be printed out, but all the actions in a set can be printed out. To do this, highlight the set that contains the action you want to see. Next hold down the ALT+CTRL keys and Open the pop-out menu in the upper right corner of the Actions panel. Do not lift up on mouse, but just scroll down the menu to Save Actions. When the explorer opens up, the file will show a .txt extension instead of the regular action .atn extension.  Now the action steps will be listed when file is opened. This is really handy if you are trying to figure out exactly what settings are being used or to trouble-shoot a action that is not working properly. Who knew!!!

Preparing Image for Web

A famous portrait photographer suggested this tip to use after saving your image for print. Add a Levels Adjustment Layer to image and set Black tab to 0, Midtones to 0.95, and White tab to 255, then set Output Levels sliders to 5 and 250. Will look better on the web. To create a more matte appearance, set the Black tab to 14 to flatten out the shadows.

When Scanning Old Photos – What Resolution is Needed?

If you want to make an old image into a larger size, before scanning image create a New Document to the size of 8 X 10inches at 240 pixels/inch for example. Once created, go to Image -> Image Size and in the dialog box uncheck Resample Image box and enter one of the dimension sizes of the original old photo being scanned, say 2 ½ inches into the Width field.  Photoshop will show in the Resolution field the number needed for scanning (960 pixels in this case) to make this image 8 X 10 at 240 ppi. Set scanner to 960 pixels to get the image to look right for printing. This is ingenious!

Adjusting Skin Tones That Do Not Look Quite Right

I tried this tip a couple times and it works really well. Add a new layer above a person with bad skin tone and set the blend mode to Hue. Hue shifts just the tones when used on a New Layer. Sample new skin color and paint with 100% brush opacity and a low flow of no more than 2% on skin – it warms up the skin just a little. To adjust lips, use Hue blend mode on painted lip layer. Try using the Color blend mode if Hue is too subtle. By adding a little blue tone to this layer on skin that is too yellow, the skin can look much better.

Select and Mask Command

This command (to be used once a selection has been made) seems pretty much self-explanatory, but there a few things to consider when using this dialog. Did you know that if you hold the ALT key down while pressing the Refine Edge Brush, Brush Tool or the Quick Selection Tool, it will switch between the Add (+) and Remove (-) setting. I have been trying to use the X-key and it does not work. Apparently I forgot this was used in the Refine Mask dialog box. This is a very handy tip for me.

Also, when using Output Settings, check out your image with both the Decontaminate Colors on and off – it does not always create a good result. Note that in CS6, the Refine Mask dialog box actually has a slider where the amount of decontamination can be set – I really liked this slider but they have removed it in the Select and Mask Command dialog box. If you really want to use this feature in CC 2017 just click on the layer mask or create a selection, go to Select -> SHIFT + Select and Mask and the old Refine Mask dialog opens up. Now the Decontaminate slider is available. There is a slight controversy among some Photoshop gurus as to which dialog is best. I personally like the new Select and Mask as it has many more features, just not a slider for decontamination.

Once back in Photoshop if you missed some areas while in the dialog, just duplicate both the layer and layer mask several times to build up the selection.

Merging Layers and Blend Mode Issues

Have you ever noticed that after merging layers, the blend mode goes back to Normal? If a color shift occurs after merging, this is what has happened and the blend mode probably needs to be reset.

Sometimes when creating a stamped or composite layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top of the Layer stack, a slight color change occurs. This has driven me crazy on several occasions! By setting the stamped layer to Color blend mode, the image colors will go back to the original underlying layer color before the layer was created. This shift seems to occur after using several blend modes and layer styles on different layers with varying the opacities. There probably are other ways to fix this, but I find this tip works pretty well.

History Log Metadata

This is one tip I have used for a long time and it has saved me when I forgot what settings I applied. Create a text History Log of every step that done on an image by going to Edit -> Preferences -> General and check the History Log and the Metadata radial button. Now when you a apply for example a Levels (not as an Adjustment Layer), the settings used can be found by going to File – > File Info and selecting the Photoshop section (History tab in CS6 at top) – a list of everything done to that image will appear. In CS6 can be exported as a .txt file, but in CC need to select all the text (CTRL+A) and paste (CTRL+V) into a text editor like Notepad. Right now some of the settings from external plug-ins will show up in the settings , but this is not working on the newer ones. For example, it currently lists Topaz Adjust actual settings, but only lists that Topaz Texture Effects 2 was used but no settings. Google Nik plugins and On1 2017 products have the preset used listed but no setting info. Also, the actual brush and settings being used will not show up, but if a Tool Preset brush is used, it is listed without its settings. That can be very helpful too. This log stays with the PSD file so you can always go back to it, unlike the actual History Panel states and snap shots.

I hope some of these tips were helpful – not real hard things to do, but just handy to know! Have a nice weekend!…..Digital Lady Syd

Notes on Blanket Image: I wish I knew who was selling these beautiful blankets, but I am sure most of the Native American Festivals will have them for sale. In Lightroom used Kim Klassen’s Melancholy preset to give more of a wilderness feel right from the start. Did a little adjustment brush work on the blankets. In Photoshop on a duplicate layer, Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Restyle was opened and a Cold Frosty Day preset was applied with a few corrections. This layer was duplicated and Topaz Texture Effects 2’s Crisp Morning Run preset was applied next, set to Color blend mode and a layer mask was opened to remove some of the effect off the birds in particular. The Blend If sliders This Layer tabs were adjusted. A clean up layer was added to remove the price tags. Two Curves Adjustment Layers were opened, set to Luminosity blend mode, and one was set for darkening the image and one to lighten – then both layer masks were inverted to black and just areas that needed more emphasis were painted back. A Spotlight Layer was created, set to Overlay blend mode at 37% layer opacity. Next Nik Viveza 2 was added to add a little focal direction to the image. A Color Balance and Levels Adjustment Layers were added. A Red Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer was applied. French Kiss’s (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Glorious Grunge Edging was used as a border with a dark blue Solid Color Adjustment Layer clipped (ALT+click between layers) to add color to it. It was a pretty long workflow but I liked the final result. These blankets were really nice!


SOME WATERCOLOR FUN!

View from Stirling Castle in ScotlandJust another quick post to pass on a pretty nifty short tutorial that Chris Spooner at Spoon Graphics posted this week. It is called How to Create a Water Painting Effect in Photoshop and it was pretty easy to follow. I have tried it out on a couple different images using different paper, painting brushes, and a few different filters after applying the ones he suggested. Since a Smart Object is created to get the base effect, images can be swapped out without changing the rest of the set up or border once created.

This image is one I took from Stirling Castle in Scotland. After applying the filters and adding a layer mask, a border was created using the McBad Brush 30 that Chris links to in his post for creating the watercolor effect border. In the Brush Panel, try changing the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter of the brush to something pretty high like 70% to get some nice edge work on the border. For this image, a stamped (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) layer (with the Paper border layer turned off) was created on top of the layers but underneath the border paper. Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression 2’s Abstract Settings-Blake Rudis preset was applied and set to, of all things, Division blend mode at 0.50 opacity. It gave the image more of an overall watercolor effect. I think many of the Impression presets would work well with this technique. A New Layer was added and using Grut I Dusty Covet Brush, lines around the tops of the buildings were sketched in to add a bit of realism and definition to the roofs – then lowered the layer opacity to 80%. On another stamped layer (with the paper layer off) Topaz ReStyle was applied – this time I had a preset created a while ago, but there were probably 20 presets that looked good on it. It seemed to even out the colors that in the final image. To give the image a real watercolor look, Grut’s W Mud Puddle Watercolor Brush was used to extend out the edges of the image into the border with strokes and paint in some solid roof colors and tree areas. As a side note, Nicolai at GrutBrushes has some really good things going at his brush site: a free brush every week (I definitely take advantage of this as different media brushes are presented), a free Photoshop Brushes Sampler with lots of nice brushes and a free Watercolor Brush called Cherry Pectin that is also in the sampler. The Cherry Pectin brush would have worked great for painting border edges also. I think this made a huge difference from the slightly canned look the original tutorial supplied. The image was way too vivid for my taste as a watercolor, so a New Layer was filled with white above and set to 16% layer opacity to calm it down a bit. The last step was to add Nik Viveza 2 to draw the eye to the orange buildings in the lower left corner and the painted bridge.

Well, still taking it easy but wanted to share – hope you get a chance to try out this technique. Chris Spooner has several nice tutorials on his site you might also like. Later…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Get Painting Effects from Actions-Part 1
A Little Watercolor Fun


ADDING A CREATIVE PAINT EFFECT

Image of King James V at Stirling Castle, ScotlandThis week I am presenting a little tutorial on how to add an interesting an painterly or artistic effect to your images. This technique goes hand-in-hand with the use of other creative filters, but is a great way to add a personal touch to those canned filters results. The image above is from Stirling Castle (completion date cc 1542) where the face of the palace is lined with statues. This statue is thought to be King James V of Scotland in yeoman attire as he wandered incognito among his subjects and calling himself the Gudeman of Ballengeich (tenant farmer of Ballengeich, a place near Stirling).

This technique comes from a really nice tutorial by Sebastian Michaels who is a total genius when it comes to using Photoshop. Several years ago he created a video called Custom Brush Technique at Light Stalking where he discussed several different ways of creating brushes. He made a grunge brush that he used to paint in an effect similar to the above. I took a little liberty here and downloaded similar brushes to create some of my effects.

What is shown here is how to add a white layer with a layer mask – by painting with black in the layer mask with unique and textured brushes, a very artistic result can be achieved. The steps are as follows:

  1. Adjust photo and on a duplicate layer (CTRL+J), add in any special effects such as filters.
  2. To add even more variety to the image, copy the duplicated layer from Step 1 and add adjustments layers, filters such as Topaz (for website link, see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Impression or ReStyle, or go to Image ->Adjustment->Hue/Saturation (not an Adjustment Layer) set to colorize to change the overall color of the image. My image was turned into a bluish colorized look on the original filter layer, but could have been done on another duplicated copy.
  3. Add a New Layer on top and fill it with white (can go into Edit->Fill and Content: White (SHIFT+F5), or just change the color swatches to default Black/White (D) and press CTRL+BACKSPACE to fill with white (FYI: ALT+BACKSPACE fills with black).
  4. Add a Layer Mask to this layer (2nd icon from left at bottom of Layers Panel).
  5. Using several different brushes in the layer mask, build up the effect. Set the brushes to 20-30% only and change the rotation of the brush with each tap down. It is easiest to do if the Brush Panel is opened and set to the Brush Tip Shape section. Flip the little circle around to set the stroke so edges appear different when painted in the mask. Also, can right click in the Options Bar the Brush Preset Picker (2nd icon) to change the rotation and size quickly. Start by adding a bit of vignette feel on the edges. If you want the brush to rotate randomly with each stroke, can ago into the Shape Dynamics section and set the Angle Jitter to some amount – I use 19% on many of my brushes. Look at the Preview field to see what the effect will be when changes are made in the Brush Panel.
  6. If the layer was duplicated and more than one filter or effect was created (as in Step 2), also add a layer mask to all these layers and paint out parts so the original color of the image shows through. This gives a nice split tone look.

To get an interesting effect, try grunge brushes, splatter brushes for the edges, and soft round or smaller sized textured brushes to paint back any important details. Different sizes, rotations and opacities of brushes really vary the effect. And remember the Properties Panel can be used to adjust the layer mask opacity if the final result is too strong. The actual layer blend mode and opacity can be adjusted also. Lots of flexibility can be found here.

The above followed Sebastion’s steps from his video pretty closely including using Photoshop’s Filter Gallery to create a watercolor effect (Watercolor filter – Brush Detail 9, Shadow Intensity 1, Texure 2; and  Crosshatch filter – Stroke Length 9, Sharpness 6, Strength 1). This was added to the layer first before the Hue/Saturation Colorize effect was applied. Then the White Layer was placed on top. Three different types of brushes were used on both layer masks: a grunge brush (Shadowhouse Creations’ Grunge Brush Set 2-G4 brush), a grunge brush made using a texture somewhat like Sebastian’s, and Grut FX IL Ratatatsplat brush (from his wonderful Inky Leaks Splatter set) was used for the edge effect. Finished up with Nik Viveza 2 to just pull the eye into the statue area and lightly lighten the face.

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Image of BlueberriesThis blueberry image used the same workflow. It does not seem as if adding a white layer on top would make much of a difference here, but it actually did. It lightened the image overall before bringing in the color from the layers below and can add some beautiful texture with the right brushes. For this image, Topaz Impression was opened and one of my presets was applied called SJ WC like effect on bldgs (see end of blog for settings). On a duplicate layer, an Image->Adjustments>Hue/Sat-Colorize was set to Hue 46/Sat 27/Lightness +2 – a gold sepia tone. The color did not look right so a Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between the layers) and changed to a more pink color. This layer was set to 33% layer opacity. Brushes used in white top layer mask and the Impression and Colorized layer masks were:  SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter (see end of blog on how to create this brush-one of my favorites as it adds just a touch of texture to the stroke at a small size and nice splatter brush at larger size) at 25% br opa and 502 px and rotated around edges; Shadowhouse Grunge GB-4 again at 1200 px and rotated around center; and ABlaise-Canvas Texture Br 46 32-350px (this brush added some nice texture into the image). The brush sizes and rotation were varied in each mask. Topaz ReStyle’s Zambezi Zest preset was used to get the French vineyard colors in the image. (Settings: ReStyle Opacity 62% and Soft Light blend mode; Color Style Primary 0.58; and Lum Primary 0.47; Texture Strength 1.00; Basic Temp 0.22, Tint 0.34, and Sat 0.08; Tone Black Level -0.14, Midtones 0.03, and White Level -0.39; and Detail Structure -1.00 and Sharpness 0.63; and Masking – with Strength set to 0.36, painted out the green leaf at bottom and the berries to give more detail in just those areas.) Finished up with the standard Red Channel Luminosity Curves Adjustment Layer, Black and White Adjustment Layer set to Luminosity blend mode, and Nik Viveza 2 to bring out the focal points.

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Image of Urquhart Castle in ScotlandHere is another example of how this technique could be used. This is an image of Urquhart Castle in Scotland on a very rainy day. Topaz ReStyle was applied using the exact same preset and settings from the blueberry image. Then a white layer was added on top with a mask. The Castle image was painted back in using the same brushes as above or the newly created Grunge Brush, the SJ 1 Color-Paint fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush (settings below) and once again Aaron Blaise’s Texture brush – his textured brushes really help with this effect when used in a layer mask. The layer was set to 35% layer opacity. On the ReStyle layer, a layer mask was added and parts of the trees and castle were painted out so the original image color showed through. At the top a New Layer was added and filled with a light gold-yellow color. A layer mask was added and once again the image was painted back using the same Grut-FX IL Ratatatsplat for the edges and my SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur brush at a small size for the detail areas. This layer was set to Linear Dodge (Add). To get the final effect, the Layer Style was opened by double clicking on the layer. In the Blend If sliders, the Underlying Layer black tab was split (by holding ALT and pulling the tab apart) and setting it to 10/70. This does not always work, but it definitely worth trying out to see what happens. In this case it brought out the structure more clearly. Nik Viveza 2 was used to pinpoint the focal point which is where the red umbrella is located. Anyway, just note that you are not limited to a white color top layer or using just one color layer. With a little experimenting, a very nice image can be produced. I believe I will use the above image on note cards.

Hope this gives you another little trick to try in your artistic endeavors and maybe it will give your images that extra level of interest it needs. And try out my brush – I am finding it is very useful in lot of different types of images. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Topaz Impression’s SJ WC like effect on bldgs Settings: Thought I would share the preset settings as it really does give some interesting results sometimes with a little masking when looking for creative effects. The preset was made in Topaz Impression 1:  Started with Watercolor II preset and these were the final settings: Stroke Type 04, Brush Size 0.91, Paint Volume 0.42, Paint Opacity 0.87, Stroke Width 0.33, Stroke Length 0.89, Spill 0.23, Smudge 26, Coverage 1.00, Color Overall Hue 0.15, Saturation -0.20 and Lightness 0.06; Red Sat 0.47 and 0.14; Orange Sat 0.60 and Lightness -0.42; Yellow Sat -0.33 and Lightness 0.13; Green Sat 0.20 and Lightness -0.32; and Blue Sat 0.36; Lighting Brightness -0.04, Contrast 0.39, Vignette 0, and Light Direction X0.33 and Y0.06; and Texture Strength 0.78, Size 0.30, Canvas IV, Background Type solid white, and Background color used #d38967 – all other settings not listed at 0. Adjust your color swatches to get other color tones. These changes  were made to the preset in Topaz Impression 2 for the blueberry image: Number of Strokes High; Color Aqua Sat 0.25 and Lightness 0.51; Lighting Highlight 0.40, Shadow -0.39; and Texture Strength 0.

SJ 1 Color-Paint Fur-AD Sketch Splatter brush has become a favorite brush for all kinds of things. With these brush settings, it is great to paint animal skin but it works great wherever a little soft edge with subtle texture is needed. It is my go-to clean up brush when color needs to be added to fill in some rough spots. Here are the settings: First download these free brushes from Alex Dukal – Adobe Sketch Brushes and select AD Sketch Splatter – 143 px brush. This brush had the brush tip I liked but most of the brush settings were changed. Here are the Brush Panel settings as I use the brush: Brush Tip Shape – Size 9 px, Angle 13 degrees, Roundness 100% and spacing 120%; Shape Dynamics – only the Control field was set to Pen Pressure (for tablet use); Scattering – check Both Axes, Scatter 149%, Count 9, and Count Jitter 54%; Transfer – only the Opacity Control field was set to Pen Pressure, and Smoothing checked. Be sure to create a Brush Preset and a Brush Tool Preset (1st icon on the Options Bar – open the drop down and click the Create New Preset icon – this saves the Options Bar settings). Adjust and paint with different sizes. Can add Texture and Color Dynamics for different look. Also Dual Brush can be interesting. I use this brush sometimes as small as 4 px to clean parts of an image by sampling adjacent colors. Try out the original brush provided as it is a really nice splatter brush.


HOW TO USE A PATTERN FILL ADJUSTMENT LAYER

Digitally painted image of the Last Snow before Spring
This is a pretty basic post on how to use a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer to add some subtle detail to image objects. This may be something you are already doing, but if not, give my short workflow below a try. A Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was used on the flying birds in the digital painting above. The birds are a free download from Cheryl Tarrant – for download link and more image details, see Image 1 info at end of blog. Bird objects work well with Pattern Fills, but any painted strokes, text or objects placed on a layer by themselves will work. Below is the quick workflow and the rest of the blog goes into more detail regarding Patterns.

Workflow for Adding a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer

  1. Open up a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer above image by going to the bottom of Layers Panel and clicking on the Black & White circle icon (fourth one over) and select Pattern (third one down). By default the last pattern in your Pattern Picker list will be selected.
  2. Clip the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer to the one below by ALT+clicking between the two layers. (See below for more options.)
  3. Double click on the pattern to open the Pattern Fill Dialog and choose your pattern. (To add more patterns, click on cog wheel in the upper right corner – PS has packaged several sets that can be clicked on or add your own. See below.)
  4. Adjust the Scale slider and drag on pattern in image to get the location and size of pattern for the effect required.
  5. Set the blend mode and opacities for both the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer and the object layer below.

Difference Between Textures and Patterns and Where Patterns Are Used

A little background material here so you understand what a pattern is much less how to use it in a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer. In PS, a pattern is a fairly small file, often times repeated without edges (lots of tutorials out there on this), that can be added to an image in various ways. A texture is a much larger file usually using the .JPG file format. Textures are added in as a layer that goes over the whole image – can alter them with a layer mask and/or different blend modes and layer opacities. Since Patterns are much smaller in size, they are added to an image with PS tools, commands, layer styles or a Pattern Fill adjustment layer. Several tools have an option to add a Pattern like the Regular Brush Tool (and Stamp Tool, Smudge Tool, Dodge Tool, Burn Tool, and Sponge Tool) in the Brushes Panel Texture Section, the Spot Healing Tool, Pattern Stamp Tool, and the Paint Bucket Tool (who knew?). (Note: In the Brush Panel, the Texture section is really adding a Pattern from the Pattern Picker to add texture to the stroke.) Also the Rectangular Tool and all the tools grouped with it can use a Pattern when set to Shape – look in the Stroke drop down. The Edit -> Fill dialog with the contents set to Pattern gets some very cool pattern effects with the Script drop-down box. Layer styles using patterns are the Bevel & Emboss Texture subsection, Stroke Fill Type, and Pattern Overlay sections. Oddly enough, the PS filters do not appear to use .PAT pattern files (they use regular texture .PSD files instead). Just wanted everyone to know patterns are located in many places, and sometimes quite hidden places (and I might have missed a few), just in case a need arises and a different technique could be used.

Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer Dialog

My favorite method for using a Pattern is with the Fill Adjustment Layer. It does not have a lot of adjustment sliders (only the Scale can be adjusted but since it is its own layer, the blend mode and layer opacity can be adjusted. There is also a layer mask so the effect can be locally masked in or out. Very easy way to adjust the results. And perhaps best of all, it can be clipped (see next paragraph) to an object layer so only what is on the layer is affected by the pattern effect. That is how the birds above look like a natural brownish color instead of the original black silhouette object. Below is a screenshot of the Pattern Fill dialog that was used on the birds above.Screenshot of a Pattern Fill Adjustment LayerIt can be seen that first Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped (the indented layer) to the birds layer. There are several ways to clip a layer, but my preferred way is to hold down the ALT key and click between the two layers to link them together. Can right click on adjustment layer and select Create Clipping Mask; or go to the Menu and choose Layer -> Create Clipping Mask; or just press CTRL+ALT+G on the highlighted layer – all work equally well.

From the latest Photoshop Manual (can download as .PDF file) search for Pattern: “Click the pattern, and choose a pattern from the pop-up panel. Click Scale, and enter a value or drag the slider. Click Snap To Origin (button) to make the origin of the pattern the same as the origin of the document (pattern opens up set to upper left corner). Select Link With Layer if you want the pattern to move along with the layer as the layer moves (moves with object layer as it is moved in the Layers Panel). When Link With Layer is selected, you can drag in the image to position the pattern while the Pattern Fill dialog box is open.” I usually just select the pattern and set the scale here. The really important thing to know is that by dragging in the image, the pattern can be moved to make it look correct on your objects if the Link with Layer box is checked. The Create a New Preset seem useless since all the patterns are already loaded.

Any color of patterns can be used (although all patterns are added turned to black and whites for the Brush Tools Texture section since brushes only use black to white tones). Using the colorful patterns can give really nice results on objects like birds or rocks or text. The one used above was included in a free Obsidian Dawn’s Grungy Dirty Patterns set which I use all the time.  Some other patterns I use a lot are 10 Splatters Patterns by Idealhut and  Vintage Floral Patterns by flashtuchka. I tend to like patterns that show bright colors and contrast. Also watercolor patterns are very useful. Try some of the loaded PS patterns, but I do not use them much. To add the patterns into your list, open up the Pattern Picker and select the little pop-out wheel where it says Load. Now just go to where the patterns were saved and open them up. They will appear at the end of your pattern list. Click on Preset Manager to add, remove or change the order (just drag to move) of the patterns loaded. With the Pattern Picker open, the different patterns can be clicked on and a live preview on the image will be seen. For the above the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer Scale slider was set to 155%, then back on the actual layer, it was set to Normal blend mode at 67% layer opacity. The birds underneath were set to Normal blend mode at 45% layer opacity. The combination gave a really nice subtle bird effect.

Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer or Pattern Overlay Layer Style

There are a couple major reasons I like the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer. The Pattern Overlay Layer Style can do pretty much everything the Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer does. But it is easy to run into problems with the other Layer Style sections that are applied on top of this section. It can block out the whole section being added. One advantage of the Layer Style is that the blend mode and opacity can be set for the actual dialog, then the adjustment layer’ blend mode and opacity can also be set. I find the Pattern Overlay section works well with text layer especially since strokes and glows can be added in easily. Note that you can use both a clipped Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer and a Layer Style on the bird layer to get extra effects. There is so much that can be done! Just remember that if you want to add a layer mask to the bird layer with a Layer Style on, be sure to check in the Blending Options section “Layer Mask Hides Effects.” Otherwise the masking will look bad.

Painted image of fauna for birdsI created this image to show how both Pattern Fill Layers and Pattern Overlay Layer Styles can be combined to get a really nice effect. Several of the plant layers used Pattern Overlay Layer Styles and many have Pattern Fill Adjustments Layers clipped to them. For example, the text layer applied both a Pattern Overlay and Drop Shadow Layer Style sections and a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer clipped to the text layer. For more info on this painting, check out Image 2 below.

How to Create a Pattern from Your Own Textures

This is probably the easiest part of this blog. I had several great textures I created and bought that would make good patterns. To convert them from a .PSD file or .JPG file to a .PAT file, go to Edit -> Define Pattern. Then name the pattern and it is placed at the bottom of your pattern list to use the next time the Pattern Picker is opened. If you are using PS CS5 or older, there is a Pattern Maker filter in the Other category that can be used to make patterns – not sure why Adobe removed it.

I hope you try this technique on your images. Adding a pattern to just a few strokes on a layer can add some real interest in an image – it does not have to be an object. I am finding I am using patterns more and more to get that extra level of creativity and blending that seems to be lacking in a lot of the original images I am seeing. Know this was a little long, but I hope this helps a little about how to do this!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info:

Image 1: This started out as a spring image but finished up as the Last Snow before Spring. That is what I love about Photoshop, sometimes major surprises result! Most of this image was painted in Corel Painter, but many details were completed in Photoshop. This seems to be the only way I can paint. In Painter, mainly used John Lowther’s Landscape Collection brushes along with various Karen Bonaker and Melissa Gallo brushes – all three of these people are incredible digital painters! In Photoshop, 37 layers were created so lots of different brushes went into this image. Several of Grut’s FX Cloud brushes were used along with Seishido Biz Favytunic’s brushes (can’t seem to locate them now-older brushes) and Frostbo’s Grass Set2 brushes. Also used several of Melissa Gallo’s Photoshop brushes from her video class (incredible class BTW). The snow was added using a brush created by following Corey Barker’s Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video which teaches how to make a terrific snow brush. (See my How to Paint in a Snow Storm blog.) The snow appears a lot more natural to me now. Also the birds are from Cheryl Tarrant’s Distressed+Seasonal+Flock+Birds+Brushes set – Brush 05 – some of the nicest bird brushes around. The texture used was by Kim Klassen called Cool Grunge (not sure this texture is still available) and was set to Multiply at 29% layer opacity. My basic PS workflow was followed after creating all the detail layers. Used Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) ReStyle’s White Swan Feathers preset. Nik Viveza 2 to draw in focus, and some Curves Adjustment Layers to restore contrast.

Image 2: The Birds of a Feather image was first painted in Paintstorm Studio with each type of brush painted on individual layers –  the image was eventually saved as a .PSD file for more adjusting in PS. In this case 13 different Paintstorm layers were created using several of my own brushes, some Double Brushes, Pens, and Multi Brushes and opened in PS. The bottom layer was one of my watercolor textures and two Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers were clipped to it – the first a light beige watercolor pattern set to 417% Scale and Normal blend mode at 91% layer opacity, and the second a Bobby Chiu Colored Paint Texture which was created from his video Building My Favorite Photoshop Custom Brush – it was set to 1000% Scale and Vivid Light blend mode at 25% layer opacity. The birds are on their own layer from Lisa Glanz called Flying Geese (could not find the download link) with a brown watercolor Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer attached. The text layer was added with a Pattern Overlay Layer Style using a bright watercolor pattern set to 265% scale and 39% opacity and a simple drop shadow. Then a Pattern Fill Adjustment Layer was clipped to this layer using a small yellow/orange/green small print pattern set to 417% scale and a layer opacity of 78%. The last step in this image used a Kyle T. Webster layer style called Fresh Fun set to 0 Fill and painted over the plants and birds to give a little extra texture effect.


HOW TO PAINT IN A SNOW STORM

Image of some snowy berriesFor some reason I have been sort of fixated on how to create a nice wintry feel in an image without getting fake falling and unnatural looking snow. This week I will show a couple ways I use to create a more natural snow and piling up effect in my images. Its a lot in the brushes!

The image above is of a pretty red budded plant (unable to find the name in my resources) that was growing at the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. In a short Corey Barker video called Corey’s Universal Particle Brush video, a fabulous brush was created to add the falling snow in exactly the places it needs to be. Corey gives very clear steps to creating this brush that uses PS Noise Filter, PS Gaussian Blur, a Levels Adjustment, and Gradient Tool to make the basic brush. Then changes are made in the Brush Panel to the Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Transparency, and Brush Tip sections. This brush was then saved as both a brush and Tool Preset – size is 1000 pixels. Corey uses this brush not for just snow but anywhere that particles are needed like fire sparks and rain effects.

Now to processing the image. Once some random flakes are added to the image, Corey suggested adding a subtle Motion Blur to the flakes (Angle 75 and Distance 11) which makes the flakes look more realistic without doing anything else. Add a New Layer and make the brush smaller (500 pixels) to build up more dense snow around the plant branches. The layer opacity can be controlled for each snow layer to give the effect wanted. Also layer masks can be added to remove flakes where unwanted. A stamped layer was placed on top (CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Black & White Effects was opened. In the filter, the Local Adjustments brush section was used to bring back the color in the image where I wanted it. The filter’s Color Brush was used to paint in the red buds and using a lower opacity, the green leaves were painted in. This softened the background a lot but color could still be introduced – in PS the layer opacity was set to 76%. On a New Layer more snow was painted in using the smaller sized Particle Snow brush again. This is how the lower leaves show snow building up on the leaves.  A basic Mixer brush was used on a New Layer to add dabs of white paint for snow – I used Fay Sirkis’s Pet Pastel Underpainting Highlight Photoshop brush (I can’t seem to locate a resource with her brushes right now). But any small sized Mixer brush (45 pixels) will probably work – in the Options Bar set the mixer combination field to Dry and turn on the Load the Brush After Each Stroke with  the color set to the snow color and just paint in the snow. Next a text layer with some icicles hanging from the letters were added on layers above using the free Frostbo Ice Brush 01 for the icicles. The last step was a Levels Adjustment Layer to adjust the contrast. I feel like this plant looks like it is in a “winter wonderland” and not a sunny Florida garden.

Image of entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle in EnglandThis image of the St. Johns Tower Entrance to apartments at Windsor Castle turned out to be lots of fun to convert to a spooky winter image. The original image was taken on a sunny day in August so it has definitely been winterized. First Topaz Clarity was used to sharpen the image overall. Then the Adaptive Wide Angle Filter, Topaz Glow, and Lucis Pro were all used to get a really sharp and correct image. At this point I was just trying out different plug-ins and this is what I ended up using. Now the snow was painted in. A free set of very basic star brushes was downloaded by KeReN-R on DeviantArt and 4 brushes were used to paint in a lot of the snow (Sample Brushes 4 – see next paragraph on how to adjust this brush, 6, 8, and 19). Also Grut’s FX Inky Leaks Bottle Topple and Romato brushes were used to give the wet slick look on the street and steps (many brushes in this set would make great snow brushes). This step was a lot of fun to do! At this point Corey’s Particle Brush could be used, but instead I took the image into Topaz Texture Effects 2 and used the Winter Day I preset which contains a snow texture. A Spot Mask was used on the entrance so it could be adjusted a little differently. Back in PS the layer was duplicated and a Gaussian Blur with radius set to 250 pixels to really blur the image. Then it was set to the Subtract blend mode. The same entrance area was painted out in a layer mask. This darkened the image down immensely. On a New Layer white was painted in the entrance and set to overlay blend mode. Another New Layer for snow was used and some snow effect painting around the doorway in front using the Grut Bottle Topple brush. On a stamped layer Nik Viveza 2 was used to really pull out the lighting effect in the doorway and to darken down the on the street. There was a lot of trial and error on this image and I personally believe that is how to actually pull this look together.

I am using Sample Brush 4 in the KeReN-R Star Brushes a lot to get the nice piling up effect of snow. These settings were changed in the Brush Panel to get a really great snow smoothing and piling brush:  In Brush Tip Shape:  Change size from 773 px to 150 px and leave Spacing at 25%; check Shape Dynamics and set Angle Jitter to 9%; and leave all other settings alone. In the Options Bar turn on the icon next to the Opacity amount so pen pressure will increase or reduce the amount of snow added. This creates a really nice brush to build up snow in any image.
Painting of a duck in his wintry home
Above is an image I painted showing how a duck sees the beauty in his home during a light snow that we humans do not get a chance to appreciate. It was initially painted in Corel Painter by first adding a lot of the basic elements and grasses. Just enjoying painting at this point. Then the image was opened in PS and many more details were added. In this case the snow was painted in using Corey’s Particle Brush and the snow was built up using the Snow Build Up brush (sampled brush 4) and sampled brush 6. Many more plant elements were added along with the duck. Topaz ReStyle was used to change the color scheme from a warmer one to a color for a more wintry look. This is a good example of how to use these snow brushes when doing creative painting.

It is very handy to have the snow in brush format as opposed to a large vector overlay. I hope you will try creating these two basic snow brushes if you enjoy making wintry scenes. I am still experimenting with them, and trying out other brushes. I like the overall effect of these two brushes and am using them a lot to just add a little wintry effect to a cooler image. Until next week…..Digital Lady Syd


HOW TO USE LIGHTROOM’S PRINT TEMPLATES TO DISPLAY YOUR IMAGES

Images of Maui from a HelicopterThis week I thought I would discuss using the built-in templates in the Print module of Lightroom. They can be a little tricky. I listened to some videos recently from Lynda.com by Julianne Kost called Introduction to Photo Compositing. She used a Lightroom Print module diptych template for her images before saving them as JPEG files in the Print To field. I just sort of improvised and used a canned LR default called Custom 2 over 1 in the Template Browser, which is an example of a Custom Package Layout Style. Then adjusted each image cell to fit the image selected in the Filmstrip at the bottom. The low original coastline image was more square than that shown – just used Photoshop’s Content-Aware Scale to stretch it out while protecting the coastline. The background in the template was a beach texture created in Corel Painter with some grunge brush strokes added on top – had to select the white border and remove it before adding the texture. The Maui images above were all processed using similar filters – the now free Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 set to Luminosity blend mode and then Topaz (see website link at my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle. Pretty simple workflow.

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Image of three Florida birdsHere is another image LR template showing my painted birds that used a rather unique set up for presenting your photos. I don’t know why, but I like the vertical strip look. In PS, a different texture was used for this background. Again, selected the white border and added a layer mask. Then applied the mask to just leave the images that can then be placed above the texture layer.

Now for the Layout Style template issue! I find these print module templates not as easy to use as it should be. After playing around with the two templates shown above, I have learned that there are differences between each style and how you load the images. Here are some issues to be aware of:

  • Sometimes the images are not in the same folders. If this happens a temporary new collection needs to be created so all the images appear in the filmstrip together. The Quick Collection does not work, must be in a created one. The Filmstrip is how you add the images to your templates so this is a necessary step. You can remove the collection when you are done printing or saving the final image as a JPEG.
  • A lot depends on whether you are using a Single Image/Contact Sheet template or a Custom Package. Depending on which one is being used determines how the images can be added to the template. If you cannot drag images in individually from the filmstrip, the template is a Single Image/Contact Sheet template. More on this below.
  • Unfortunately, the size of the images cannot be increased or reduced to adjust inside the cells – in other words no Free Transform to adjust image in cell – the aspect ratio is set. The work around would be in the Develop module to create a Virtual Copy of the size or part of image you would like to use and then select it in the Filmstrip using the Print Module.

For Single Image/Contact Sheet templates, the limitation is that the images can only be added based upon the order of the images in the Filmstrip – must select all of the images at once in the Filmstrip to add. Therefore, if you do not like the order, you will have to rename the images to set the order. When using this type of template, the images can be adjusted inside the the individual image cells by just dragging inside them. The Zoom to Fit can be checked to make it fit the cell, but the size cannot be adjusted otherwise. Press CTRL+click on the image to deselect image to remove from template.

For Custom Package templates, the images can be dragged into any cell and in any order. If a template will not let you add another image, that means a Single Image/Contact Sheet Layout Style template has been selected. Unfortunately there are not as many options to create a template when the Custom Package  is selected. There are no Layout Margin or Cell Spacing cells so all the image cells have to be lined up using the Rulers checkbox in the Rulers, Grid & Guides section. This can be tedious to do, but worth the time so that the images can be added in any order. Start with Cells section and press the Clear Layout button – then Add to Package and click the 2 X 2.5 button, then start adjusting the size of the cell to taste by dragging the sides or corners. To adjust the image position inside the cells, must CTRL+drag on image or else the actual photo cell moves. To delete a cell, just press the BACKSPACE key. To duplicate a cell, press ALT+drag to it to a new position. If

Below you can see the difference between the two major Layout Styles. Luckily in this case you can get very similar results, but it is harder to set up the Custom Package style. The top screen shot used a Custom Package layout and the bottom one used the Single Image/Contact Sheet layout. If you would like to see the preset settings more clearly, click on each image to see settings in Flickr:

Screenshot of a Single Image/Contact Sheet for 3 Tall preset

Image of a 3-Tall Custom Package preset After images are lined correctly, go to the Print Job and change Print to: from Printer to JPEG File. The image can then be brought into Photoshop where the background can be changed and text added. Pretty easy at this point.

In my Showing Off Your Images with Lightroom blog a while back, there are several more examples of using LR templates. For more info on how to create your own Print Template presets, Scott Kelby did a really nice job in his Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (any version) Book for Digital Photographers, “Creating Custom Layouts Any Way You Want Them” chapter. Here he goes into more detail on how to make several different creative effects using the Custom Package layout style. This module has not changed since Lightroom 3 at the time of this blog. I really like templates. It is too bad it is so confusing as to how to get these nice effects. I am surprised Adobe has not updated the Print module to incorporate some easier ways to add photos and adjust them. Hopefully that will be part of the next update. Anyway, it was a lot of fun creating some different ways to show my images. Have a good week…..Digital Lady Syd


TRY A LITTLE INVERSION FOR A CREATIVE CHOICE

Image of a gray succulent with some color popThis week just doing a quick blog. The image is of a painted Graptopetalum Point Dexter succulent plant. Sometimes it is just fun to do a little “outside-the-box” painting to turn a rather dull photo into something interesting. That is why I thought I would remind everyone of this rather basic tip – invert your image. I have found that when I am stuck with the color in the image, this helps to try a different look. By inverting the image, the complementary colors replace the original colors in the whole image. This technique seems to work best on flowers and objects – I have been having trouble getting a landscape to look correct with a total inversion. There are several ways to get an image inversion – this image was inverted by duplicating the image and just clicking CTRL+I on the layer thumbnail, just like when inverting a layer mask. Also a Curves Adjustment Layer can be used – drag the black tab point all the way to the top and the white tab all the way to the bottom. This option gives a lot of flexibility by dragging the Curve line up or down to get different effects, and doing the same in the individual red, green and blue channels. Also try different blend modes to get different effects for all methods. The effect can be totally localized with a black layer mask and just adding in bits of color where needed. This works great when painting images to just introduce a small amount of new color – it still fits in with the chosen the color scheme.

For this image, in Lightroom the Basic panel was used along with the HSL panel to improve the colors – the blue stems were actually dark purple and the flower petals more of a turquoise-gray in the RAW file. Here is the background layer as brought into Photoshop.
Background layer of image
In Photoshop Lucis Pro plugin (no longer available) was applied to add a little sharpness and detail to the image and then the layer was duplicated (CTRL+J). By clicking in the image thumbnail and pressing CTRL+I, the image was inverted into the complimentary color scheme from the original – this gives the really dramatic color effect in the image. On New Layers above, the mixers and regular brushes were used to smooth and paint the image. On a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReStyle’s Cream and Plum preset (my favorite) where various sliders were used to get the final color components. One of Kyle T. Webster’s Whisper Impasto Layer Style was used to get the painterly effect along with a couple Pattern Fill Adjustment Layers to add more of a painterly effect.

Give this a try next time you get stuck – it could really help and it is a quick thing to try. Have a good one!….Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
What Does the Difference Blend Mode Do?
Just What Does a Lab Inversion Do?

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