If you enjoy wildlife animals and want to try your hand at drawing them, Aaron Blaise has some of the best videos to fine-tune your skills. I can honestly say, it is taking me a long time to get a good workflow, but I am finding that most digital artists follow similar steps no matter what the subject matter or media they are using is.
The videos used for the Tiger images are in Aaron’s Digital Painting in Photoshop (20 videos and 12.5 hours of lessons) set that were created a while ago (December 2017). In you catch a one of his recent YouTube videos, he still follows the same basic workflow as presented, just uses a different brush. If you are interested in any of many videos he offers, click the link above to sign up for his newsletter – he has fabulous sales several times a year that include his great brushes and many videos (he offers them for $1 to $5 and gives an extra !0% off if you get the newsletter). Since I am on a pretty tight budget, this has been wonderful!
The Malayan Tiger above resides at the Palm Beach Zoo – I have some great images of their tigers so I tend to draw them. Aaron suggests using your own photo images for drawing and painting (especially if you plan on posting or selling your art) as the drawings are still considered under copyright laws of the image. This was just a black and white rendering to practice using your brush in a tutorial called Getting Started-Sketching in Photoshop. Here you learn to use your sketch brush and how to do rough sketch layer, refined sketch layer, highlight or white line layer, and background layer. It’s a great way to practice your drawing skills. These digital drawings are similar to drawing them on a piece of paper with a regular pencil. They have a very grainy line in most cases.
These images both used the Legacy Default 9 Pencil brush that comes with Photoshop – it is an Erodible Pencil and Aaron used it for these videos. I did try several other brushes but ended up using the Pencil 9. I did find the Erodible Pencils have problems a lot in PS2022 – the computer runs hard and sometimes the PS History Panel says a stroke is being laid down, but it is does not show up. It seems to happen often when toggling to the Eraser Tool or the Tilde key. (Also check to make sure your brush is not set to Clear mode in the Options Bar.) By clicking on another brush or tool, it usually comes back, but this is very annoying. My personal work-around was to reload PS2021 for just drawing as there are no brush issues with it. I am hoping Adobe gets this fixed soon.
The above used the same workflow, but this time some color was added and a texture placed over him for a different look. This is a Sumatran Tiger from the Jacksonville Zoo. To get him colorized, a Color Lookup table preset color Edgy Amber was added at 72%, then Viveza was used to spot color the orange in (this filter is still the overall best for doing all kinds of things including adding local color to areas). Kim Klassen’s The Studio Collection texture beekeeper (not sure this available anymore) was applied on top using the Divide blend mode. I just posted another example of this technique on my Tidbits Blog called Living in the Abstract – it used some of Kyle Webster’s newly released Spring 2022 brushes.
TIGER TALK: Both these tiger subspecies are on the critical endangered species list. There is no clear difference between Malayan Tigers and Indochinese Tigers except for their geographical location (Malaysian Peninsula) and they are a little smaller, but it is a subspecies of its own. They can swim, can eat elephants, and are born blind. They live in tropical and subtropical forests, shrubland, and grassland, Compared to other subspecies, the Sumatran Tiger, which is only found in Sumatra, has a darker orange color in its fur and stripes that are closer together, and it is the smallest of the tiger subspecies. Their color pattern allows them to blend into their habitat. They prefer tropical forests with dense cover, freshwater swamp forests, and peat swamps. They eat larger ungulates, including tapir, wild boar and deer, as well as smaller animals, like monkeys, birds, and fish. Of the nine subspecies of Tigers, three of them are now extinct. So sad….
I have not finished doing all the tutorials – presently working on an Elk with many Color, Highlight and Shadow layers – lots of fun. One clever thing he did teach us is how to apply a texture to fit an object or subject. Below is my favorite free stock image called guitar man where the guitar material was changed from a solid yellow to a wood texture. To do this, clip the texture to the image, then use the Free Transform Warp tool to adjust to the guitar. If needed add a layer mask after adding the texture and brush away any that is not needed. In this case, the layer was set to Color Burn blend mode and 58% layer opacity. Pretty cool technique and pretty easy! The background used a brush I created from French Kiss Tableaux Mirage texture a long time ago – just stamped it down with different colors, blend modes, and opacities.
Last week I posted a short Tidbits Blog called Waiting for Sunset that used one of the atmospheric effect techniques from this set. I have learned that to get good at drawing, you have to practice some every day or so. It is really easy to lose the stroke feel with the brushes. And Aaron has many other sets of videos including several “How To Draw” animal videos. See the first three links below showing some other images I drew from other sets of his videos. Also see my Learning to Draw a Wolf! blog which is a link to a free YouTube showing his basic workflow that is similar to what he is teaching here – I would suggest you check it out to see if you like his style of drawing and teaching.
Well that is it for now. Hope you try out some of Aaron’s drawing techniques – it is a lot of fun to see what results you get without using a camera! Have a great week…..Digital Lady Syd
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This week I decided to colorize more vintage images using Photoshop’s Neural Filters as I have realized most vintage images need a bit of grain added after colorizing them. This is a very subtle change but it does seem to make a difference. There are so many ways to do this, and I tried several different methods out on these images before creating this blog (i.e, created a film grain layer or downloaded one from the internet to use as a grain overlay and possibly using the Overlay blend mode; applied filters from Topaz Studio, Color Efex Pro, Luminar and others grain settings; or downloaded grain brushes and painted onto a new layer only where the grain should appear). My older blog still seems to have the best method of doing this. It is a workflow by Katrin Eismann. Also, I had created a very simple action for it that still works great.
The image above is of a home in Kearney, Nebraska from 1940 and Shorpy.com (click link to see original image – scroll down through the comments to see how different the house now looks!) had it on their site. They have some of the best vintage B&W photos from all over the US that are just perfect for PS’s Neural Filters, especially the Colorize Filter.
NOTE: Wanted to remind everyone when colorizing a downloaded historic photo, especially from this site, the first thing to do is to check its size by going to Image -> Image Size. If it is too large, change the resolution (if needed) to 240 so the image becomes manageable, like somewhere around 10″ X 7″ is what I like – otherwise it is way too large to process. For the other post-processing steps used on the Old House image, check Image 1 info at bottom of blog. The last step involved adding grain using the workflow below:
Film Grain Effect Workflow and Action Steps
This workflow was a tip in an older KelbyOne class by Katrin Eismann (another brilliant PS guru) called Color to Black and White Artistry, but the basic grain technique is still quite current. In this blog’s case, it has been used on colorized Black and White images. Using this method gives a really natural subtle result to the image and adds the effect in the areas you want it, mainly the Blue and Green channels, and leaves the Red Channel alone where the subject usually resides. The film grain is added so that the Blue Channel gets the greatest amount of grain, Green channel less, and Red Channel the lowest amount.
1.Create a stamped layer (CTRL_ALT+SHIFT+E) where the grain will be added.
2. Open the Channels Panel. Note that on the sub-steps below, all Channels used the Add Noise Filter radial button with Gaussian and Monochromatic selected.
- Highlight Red Channel (no need to duplicate the channels) and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 4%
- Highlight Green Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 6%
- Highlight Blue Channel and go to Filter -> Noise -> Add Noise and set Amount to 8%
3. Next Highlight each channel again and go to Filter -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur and set Radius Amount to 0.3%
4. In the Layers Panel, change the blend mode to Luminosity so any color noise is reduced.
5. Will probably need to adjust the layer opacity as the effect may be is too much. Or a layer mask could be added and the grain added/removed in just local parts of the image.
For the Old House image, the layer opacity was set to 56% which seemed to be just enough to give a nice vintage feel to the whole image. It also made the replacement sky match the house very nicely.
This technique/action works very well on regular black and white images and I am sure it would look good on any regular image that needed a little grain added. Below is a screenshot of my action panel showing the steps so you can reproduce them if you wish:
Shorpy.com (click link for original B&W image and great comments again) posted this image a few days ago. I remember seeing one of these little Conoco Stations in Annapolis, Maryland, a long time ago (not sure I ever saw another one). Biggest issue here is that the replacement sky needed some grain to match the image original image grain. By creating a stamped layer on top of the Sky Replacement Group (making sure any layers above it are turned off-by clicking off the eyeballs on the layers above), the grain steps were applied. Then the Sky layer mask in the Sky Replacement Group was copied so only the sky had the grain applied (set layer to 89% opacity). See Image 2 info at end of blog for other post processing steps.
The image above is another Shorpy.com one (click link to see original) and was taken by Fritz W. Guerin in 1902. I wanted only a very subtle colorization (and not a lot of film grain, but enough to match the model to the background. Wanted to mention Skylum’s new Neo Filter was opened – the Relight section (which IMHO makes it worth buying) and Film Grain section were applied just to the background by masking out the model in the filter. See Portrait Image 3 below for the Neural Filters used and other steps. The last step was adding the overall grain to a stamped layer and setting it to 43% layer opacity. Two other methods were tried (one using a created film grain layer and another where the grain was actually painted on using a downloaded grain brush), but the above workflow gave the best results.
This grain gives a really nice effect on vintage images, but don’t overdo it or it will not look good. Have a great week!….Digital Lady Syd
OTHER STEPS FOR IMAGES:
- Old House Image: After resizing the image, the Neural Colorize Filter was added. It really does not matter what order most of the steps are done, just important to do them. Did a Filter -> Neural Filter -> Colorize and used the default settings. Next a PS Edit -> Sky Replacement using a blue sky from their set was done. Did some sharpening using Topaz Sharpen AI, but any sharpening would have been fine for this. On the above, the house lines were not perpendicular, so the Liquify Filter was used to push it all together. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a Cerulean preset was added at 26% layer opacity along with a Levels Adjustment Layer. Viveza 2 was added. This post processing was definitely just a try this and try that until you get a look you like. The last effect was adding the Film Grain using the Workflow above – it was applied to the whole layer and the opacity was reduced to 56%.
- The Filling Station Image: After sizing the image, the image was sharpened. Problem areas were cleaned up – this one had power lines and the kid scratching his face. Created a stamped layer (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) set as a Smart Object, and chose Filters -> Neural Filters -> Colorize. The Adjustments sliders were changed to desaturate it a little to get the overall very sunny effect. (This filter just keeps getting better!) On another stamped layer, the image was taken into Lucis Pro 6 (it appears it is still not available – I keep watching for everyone) to sharpen it just a little more. Then a PS blue sky Replacement Sky was added to add some beautiful clouds. Biggest issue here is that the sky – see blog on image to see how this was handled. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added at 73% opacity using a Cerulean preset. A Photo Filter using Warming Filter (85) with a Density of 56% was added next – it really warmed up the image to make the image look very sunny. A new layer set to Overlay blend mode was created and white color on a brush at a low Flow was used to paint over the gentleman’s shirt, the little boy, and a little on the gas pumps themselves for the focal points. The brush used was just a soft round brush set to 100% Opacity, 9% Flow, and the Airbrush turned on in the Options Bar. The last step added just a slight vignette set to 17% layer opacity.
- Portrait Image: Not a lot of steps although I tried a lot of things with this image. After adding Neo, back in PS the Colorize Neural Filter at the default setting was applied (it gave the nice soft colors – I tried the more colorful look but the shadows were too heavy on the face and chin with this filter) and the Smart Portrait Neural Filter – just used the Expression-Surprise set to +16 and Global Light direction set to -14 (gave her a more serious look). Had some clean up layers, and created a stamped layer on top. To get the nice skin tone, a turquoise Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was set to Color Burn blend mode at 29% layer opacity and a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer using a free Sparkle Stock’s Choi Hung Estate 01 preset set to 60% layer opacity was added.
This week I spent a lot of time working on my Jacksonville Zoo images. It is really hard to get that perfect shot when you are without a tripod and the animals and you are moving a lot, not to mention the weather aspects that can affect the final picture. Therefore it is sort of a hit or miss prospect and it takes a little manipulation to get the perfect image.
The above is an image using the effect that Joel Sartore (a National Geographic photographer) uses and is his images are currently being displayed throughout the Jacksonville Zoo. He mission is to photograph every live animal on the earth using this beautiful technique. He uses lighting and sharpness very effectively. I thought I would try to get a similar effect with some of my images and this Bonobo Monkey is one of my results. (This technique is also displayed in my Sneaking a Quick Snack image on my Tidbits Blog.)
So how do you create this effect? First the basic color work was done in Lightroom and the image was cropped once in Photoshop. A Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer using the color black was added under a duplicate layer of the Background Layer. Joel uses white also as a background color, but I really like the black background effect.
Getting a Good Selection
A good selection is crucial – you do not want any discoloration from the original background where the animal was located. The Quick Selection Tool was used to select the monkey from his background. As you can see, the above had a lot of head hair and was easily discolored since his hairs were so thin. The Select and Mask panel was opened and the Refine Brush Edge Tool (2nd icon down on the left) was selected at the default 30-pixel size. An 8-pixel Edge Detection Radius was entered. With the Refine Brush Tool, the monkey was painted over his edges. Sometimes you do not get the best results with this tool, but it is a good start. At this point I usually look at the Black & White View and use the Brush Tool (3rd icon down) to clean up anything that looks bad. The Shift Edge was set to +37% to show up the hair on his head more. Exited using New Layer with Layer Mask (no decontamination used as it did not look good but always check to see). It totally depends on what is being selected as to whether all these sliders used on this image. The Eagle below used only the Refine Edge Brush. I personally find this panel to be very finicky as to how well it works. I would list a reference but so far I have not found any that are that great. I always do paint around the edges with the Refine Brush Edge Tool no matter what is being selected. Some experts say paint from the inside out over the edge – this works sometimes for me. The good news is that the layer mask can be painted in directly once out of the panel to further tweak the image. This is where a some special brushes can really help. This also may be a case to use Topaz (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) Mask AI if you own the filter – it does give a better selection sometimes.
Finding a Good Fur or Feather Brush
Back in Photoshop, a good Fur Brush is necessary to use inside the layer mask since so many hairs might be missed in the Quick Selection Panel. They need to be added in at this point. There are several places where you can get fur brushes. My best set is free to use from Coyotemange called Wildlife Texture Brushes on DeviantArt – great for painting in missing areas on all kinds of animal fur. Aaron Blaise also has some great animal brushes for sale. The one used a lot on the monkey image (and is one of my favorite brushes) was created from watching a short free brush video (No. 21) by Karen Alsop included in her class called Using Composite Photography to Create a Fantasy World on Creative Live. It has been very useful for all kinds of rough edges and I use it as a Clone Stamp Tool brush and Eraser also. By alternating between black and white on the edges, the hairs can be added back in with a very realistic look. Another very handy brush was created by watching Aaron Nace’s How to Cut Out Hair with the Brush Tool in Photoshop video. You can download the brush from there – I use this brush a lot in the layer masks for individual fur hairs – just need to adjust the stroke angle in the Options Bar or the Brush Panel.
Color and Lighting
Next the color of the subject needs to be considered. The monkey used a Levels Adjustment Layer. The Red in the drop-down menu was opened and the white tab moved left (which added Red into the Highlights) and the Midtone (center) tab was adjusted for contrast. In the Blue both the white tab was moved left a little and on the Output Levels, the first field was set to 14 to add blue into the shadows a little bit. To understand how this works, check out Aaron Nace’s How to Use Levels & Curves in Photoshop – Day 6 video – it is an excellent explanation! A Curves Adjustment Layer was used for contrast.
Now I could see the hair did not look right so another Curves Adjustment Layer was selected and the layer mask was filled with black (CTRL+I in the mask). By painting over the hairs with a white brush, the hairs could be exposed. Then the Curve was adjusted by using the little hand tool in the top of the Curves Panel and getting just the right tone on the hair. A Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer was added and the layer mask from the Curves Adjustment Layer was copied over so the color of the hair could also be adjusted. The eyes were brightened using the Exposure Adjustment Layer (see my The Eyes Have It – How to Make Them Pop in an Image blog). The last step was to use a Spotlight Effect on the subject to enhance the light already on the monkey. (See my How to Add a Spot of Light blog.)
I used Viveza 2 to do final image adjustments but Photoshop’s Camera Raw Filter works just as well – mainly was adding a little focused structure to parts of his face for focus. Also a text layer was added.
This Bald Eagle is located at the Jacksonville Zoo with his blind buddy eagle. I felt bad for him as he was extremely alert and really wanted to take off but he seemed content to watch all the visitors as we passed by and said Hi. His final image is not as dramatic as the monkey image since the lighting was essentially non-existent in this image. Since he was not moving much, it was pretty easy to get a really sharp image. It was also easy to select the Eagle just using the Refine Edge Brush in the Select & Mask Panel as he did not have all the little feathers or hairs that many birds and animals have sticking out. Basically did a little spotlight lighting on his face and neck areas. Used Luminar Flex (could have used Luminar 4) to add the sharpness to the image (used Accent AI Filter 2, Structure, Details Enhancer, Golden Hour to adjust color in the beak, and Microstructure filters). Popped his eye with an Exposure Adjustment Layer. That was it. This was a very easy image to use for this type of effect.
It really is not that hard to get the look – just have to be careful of the mask being used. An edge discoloration could really overall ruin the result. Love this look that Joel did with his wonderful pictures. Hope you give a try. Have a great one and will be back soon!…..Digital Lady Syd
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How to Add a Darker Background Image for a Different Effect
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
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.
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.
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
Topaz ReMix – Update and Better Than Ever!
Just doing a really quick blog this week – have been working on an image that was taken this last summer that I really liked, but it just was not that sharp. Mainly my settings were off – they were working on the butterflies but not for the skiddish birds. If I walked in closer, the birds were totally freaking and would not come near the bird feeder, so this was a problem. Lesson learned – shoot manual when having problems! It may not be the best image, but I did get a nice remembrance of the birds and they are at least recognizable. So here is what I finally came up with to fix this.
Obviously I was shooting a lot of images and that was a big part of why this worked. I have learned that a little burst shooting and several attempts are especially good when I am not sure that I am getting the image I want. The two images were not shot at the same time – actually several deer images were taken in between. The juvenile Blue Jay image was shot first and the Cardinal second. You will probably never find a Blue Jay and a Cardinal at this feeder at the same time. That is why the bird images were taken at different times, but I decided to leave the Blue Jay alone as I thought he looked cute. Below are the actual RAW files taken. You can see these both are in pretty bad shape. One reason I wanted to use this Cardinal shot is that I liked the way his head was turned.
In Lightroom these simple settings were applied: first opened the Detail Panel to adjust some Sharpness and add Noise reduction (because it is always there with this camera), then in Lens Correction the check boxes for Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections were turned on. The image was next cropped into a Square. In the Basic Panel the Auto button was clicked and Texture and Clarity sliders were adjusted. That was it. The image was taken into Photoshop where it could be seen this just was not good. Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Sharpen AI was added and set to Stabilize, Remove Blur 1.00, and Remove Noise 0.20. It helped, but it could not totally fix this pix. In Lightroom an image that used the same bird feeder that was sharper had to be found – the one with the juvenile Blue Jay was selected. The changes made to the RAW file for the Cardinal were copied over to the Blue Jay image and it was also brought into PS. Below you can see what they both looked like at this point.
Now the Blue Jay image had to have Topaz AI Sharpen applied in PS before stacking on top of the Cardinal layer. Several layers of cloning and painting with both regular and mixer brushes was required to add back the needed detail and blend the colors together. Once brought into the Cardinal image, the Blue Jay layer had to be Free Transformed to fit and a black layer mask added – just painted back parts needed. The info was all there on the originals, just slightly blurry. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was added on top using Sparkle Stock’s Bleak-Shoji 01 LUT and set to 58% layer opacity – this tended to tone down the very green background color. Viveza 2 was used to highlight the birds and add a little detail with the Structure slider. The setting were placed on the Blue Jay in this case where the Structure slider was set to 65%, Brightness 42%, Contrast 49%, Saturation 22% and Warmth 25% – really made the bird pop – I use this program all the time to even out an image. I used 6 different points in this image to help direct the eye to the birds. I really feel it is much better than Lightroom’s filters and a lot easier to use. I do still love LR so don’t get me wrong, but this program to me is still the best Photoshop plugin ever made. (See screenshot below of how this plugin was used.)
On a stamped layer, Topaz Lens Effect’s Vignette filter set to Burnt Sienna was used – the effect was painted off the birds and feeder in a layer mask. A Curves Adjustment Layer was added to add some contrast back. Then on a New Layer the Sharpen Tool was set to a Strength of 100% to just the Cardinal and some of the seeds in the bird feeder – it was set to 45% layer opacity to keep it natural. A Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added next to adjust the red color in the Cardinal – this really added some depth and detail to the birds body which was not seen in the original image (Reds set to Cyan +82, Magenta +6, Yellow +2, and Black +13). Next a Black and White Adjustment Layer was added on top and the colors were adjusted as a black and white before setting the layer to Luminosity blend mode – great way to make sure you have your tonal values correct. (See my How to Use a Black & White Adjustment Layer to See Contrast in an Image blog.) Last step involved adding a Red Channel Luminosity Mask to a Curves Adjustment Layer – the Red Channel lighted up the birds the best. (See my How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect blog.) I hope I am getting across the fact that the sharpening is just slowly built up using different tools for different parts of the image.
Who is this that just walked into my blog? Oh yes, one of the deer that was wandering around the yard near the bird feeder. My goodness! (Image was digitally painted mainly in Corel Painter 2019 and then finished up in Photoshop – my normal paint process.)
Anyway, thought I would show you how to fix something that may not seem fixable. It can be done, just takes a little experimentation and imagination to make it work. It actually is a lot like compositing images. Hope this was a bit of help to some of you – a favorite image might be saveable with a little manipulation. …..Digital Lady Syd
This week I thought I would just show a creative way to present your subjects if you get tired of just using a single image. The above image is of a beautiful Lioness at the Jacksonville Zoo. This was supposed to be a sepia tone but after a lot of iterations, the cool tones looked the best to me. By using two images, it displayed her different expressions. These kind of composites can be really beautiful and are fun to do, especially if you have a couple images that compliment each other.
Here are the steps to get the above look: This image was originally post processed in Lightroom as a color image and settings were pasted between the images so they looked similar in tone. Then in a New Document in Photoshop a black background layer was created and the images were added. For the top face, Topaz (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) ReMask was used to select the lion as a nice result could not be achieved with Photoshop’s Select and Mask command. For the foreground Lion, the Pen Tool was used to select her. I tried using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert this image to black and white, but it just did not work – the image looked degraded. Instead I used Topaz Studio’s Black and White filter – it has an Orange slider which really worked with a lion image (also Topaz has had the best color sliders since they started), Precision Detail, a Color Overlay using a charcoal blue color (#2e4e62), and Precision Contrast. Still needed something else, so Luminar (for website link see my Tidbits Blog sidebar) Flex’s Image Radiance filter was added for the soft effect – it just popped this image. In the filter mask, the faces were painted back to retain the detail. A spotlight effect and rim lighting on the right side of both faces was added in Photoshop. Some Mixer Brush magic was used on the upper image to blend her neck into the background, and a Gradient Tool was used on a new layer to slightly darken the top face. This image took some manipulation to get the look I liked – luckily I like to play around with all the different filters! But I think the results can be quite outstanding.
For a slightly different look, these Day Lilies taken at the Harry P. Leu Gardens were put on a black background just like above, but this time a leaf image was added to the upper right edge to add a very subtle feel. (See my Beautiful Leaves Tidbits Blog for the original leaf image.) To get the flowers to light up so much, the Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop was used. A little spotlight effect also helped and some leaves were drawn in to fill them out a little. Next Viveza 2 was used to blend the two images together seamlessly. A Curves Adjustment Layer was used at the end to get the final look.
Here is an older image taken several years ago in Arizona with yet a different way of using this kind of effect. In this case a box was added on top of the image where another image could be inserted. A Color Lookup Adjustment Layer was used to give the background image a really darker feel.
The above is actually a really simple technique. It used to be more popular and was used a lot in wedding photography. It is still a nice way to achieve a different effect.
Well hope you give this one a try – it is a lot of fun and if you have several good shots of something you like, it might look really nice. Will chat at ya soon!…..Digital Lady Syd
This has been a major busy week for us Photoshop people so I thought I would pop in with what’s new. The above image was post-processed with the new Aurora HDR update using 5 layers including one that totally softened down the clouds. This program is turning out to be a favorite of mine, especially when wanting a really nice sharp look.
Adobe Camera Raw/Lightroom Updates
Apparently the biggest news is that Adobe added the ability to sync your presets and profiles with Lightroom Mobile on your phone and tablet. In LR Classic the Preset Rollover feature can now be turned off and the Profiles feature can be stopped by just holding down the ALT key while selecting and no previews will be seen. To me the best feature is that any preset folder can be turned off by right clicking the plus sign on the Preset column and select “Manage Presets.” Then uncheck the ones you do not want to see and click save. This seems major handy to me. It can also be done to the Profiles by right clicking on any profile group – then uncheck ones not needed and save. There are a couple other features for stacking images and adding label colors for folders. Check out Scott Kelby’s Lightroom Classic 7.4 Update blog on Lightroom Killer Tips for more information.
Skylum’s Aurora HDR 1.2.0 Update
I really love both the Luminar and Aurora HDR programs that Skylum owns, but lets face it, we Windows people still are not quite caught up with the Mac versions. (For website links, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) Aurora now supports batch processing – it seems all the plug-ins are rushing to get this added to their programs. Other updates includes a new White Balance/Eyedropper Tool, layers can be renamed, and quick previews are enhanced. Aurora seems not near as finicky – the brushes work smoother in both the layer masking area and the Darken & Brighten filter. That was one area that needed improvement. For more update info, check out this page called Aurora Is Better Than Ever.
On1 Photo Raw 2018.5
On1, not to be outdone by Lightroom, did a huge release this week and it appears to be really good! This program is starting to grow on me. When I first got the new On1 plug-in several years ago, it ran my computer hard and I did not like that. Now this is not a problem and it is lightening fast when adding files into its Browse module. One of the areas that I am totally loving is they have added lots of new LUTs (lookup tables) that can now be hovered over to see the effect. You can now right click and choose Create Version which is the same as a Virtual Copy in LR – love that! There are so many things that it is best to just check out the website to find them – I am still digging through it all. (For website link, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) I will blog on its new features soon after I have had a chance to try them all out.
These beautiful pink azaleas were growing in my yard a while back. What a perfect color of pink! Most of the post-processing was done in the new stand alone version of On1 Photo Raw 2018.5, but a little more was done in PS. The Effects module’s LUTs filter was applied with the Color Pop category and Honkey Tonk LUT. Just loved the result. Also used my favorite Dynamic Contrast and Sharpening filters at their default settings.
Topaz Studio AI Clear
I love Topaz and this is their newest filter released this week. (For website link, check out the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.) It detects and removes noise in an image while sharpening the details at the same time. They say the filter “uses the insight of a custom neural network trained on millions of images to detect and reduces noise as well as enhances details in your images automatically.” When I tried it out, it did a pretty good job on my images. But it seems to overlap with their really good Noise Reduction and Detail/Clarity filters – I need to work with it more to understand how to use it properly. In the Disney Tomorrowland image below, one of my new favorite filters, AI ReMix, was applied and then Topaz Adjust was added on top. Topaz recently added several new presets to the filter which gives a lot more choices for making images more interesting. There are so many ways to use Studio that is it a bit mind-boggling.
Google (Nik) Collection
Last, but not least, DxO recently bought the Nik Collection from Google. They have now updated the collection to run with all the operating systems. I do not believe any new filters have been added to the group, but now it is functioning properly for everyone. If you have had problems with the original aging plug-ins, I would definitely recommend updating to this new version. To get the upgrade, here is a link. I am so glad these filters are being updated and will continue to be used. It contains my favorite plug-in that I use on almost every image – Viveza 2 so I could not be happier!
Well that’s it – just thought I would catch you up since it seems like a lot is going on in the plug-in world. I am so glad the plug-in folks are busy adding to their collections and improving their programs to keep up with the times. Have a great week!…..Digital Lady Syd
This 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.
This 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
This topic has always interested me. There has been so much written on this so I am not going to go over all of it. I have found that for me a little trial-and-error works as good as anything when it comes to this type of processing. Luckily in Lightroom there are presets that will give you a quick look to see how an image will stack up as a monochrome type image, and there are many black and white presets for Photoshop’s ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) that can be downloaded. The St. Augustine, Florida lamp lights RAW file had a really bright blue background and very black wrought iron with little detail. By converting to more of a sepia tone, the detail came out very clear. The really interesting thing is that to get the detail to pop out of the ironwork, an Invert Adjustment Layer set to Soft Light Blend Mode at 92% opacity was used.
When an image just seems overwhelmed by color and I am having trouble controlling the feel, applying a black and white conversion or introducing a slight color effect can calm down the whole image. That is what happened in the above image that was taken near the summit of the large volcano, Mauna Kea on the Big Island in Hawaii, of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (apparently to be dismantled in 2016) where the Keck Telescope is also located. The little observatory was lost from view in both the strong browns of the surrounding dirt and foreground gravel and the soft blues of the Mauna Loa volcano in the background and the sky. It was processed totally in Lightroom using the Basics section sliders and a preset I had created from reading David duChemin’s book Vision & Voice – Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I call it the duChemin Massai Chocolate split-tone & vignette preset. Only those two sections of Lightroom 3 were used to create the preset so it still works with Lightroom 4. In Split Toning the Highlights Hue was set to 34 and Saturation t0 30, Shadows Hue was 0 and Saturation 6, and the Balance slider was set to -25. In the Lens Correction section’s Manual tab, the Lens Vignetting Amount slider was set to -63 and the Midpoint to 18. I have used this preset several times as it has a very nice subtle tonal appeal. That was basically all that was done to make this a much more interesting image.
Another one of my favorite images from Hawaii but once again, the detail would have been lost if it had been processed as taken. The original RAW file had very little detail in the rising hillside and water and the color was totally dull – almost a flat-looking black and white. By converting it to a nice cool water tone, the image takes on new life. The image has several filters stacked in Nik Color Efex Pro 4: BW Conversation using Dynamic Contrast method, Photo Stylizer which give it the beautiful blue glow using Method 1 at 28% Strength, Low Key, Lighten/Darken Center, and Detail Extractor using 7 control points to selectively bring out the details in the image. Nik Viveza 2, Imagenomics Noiseware filter, and OnOne PhotoFrame were also used to complete the image.
Here is another example of a very busy and overly bright image that really loses its appeal in color. Since it is the oldest drugstore (built in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1739) in the United States, it already has a that vintage feel to it. Therefore a sepia tone really adds to the effect the image should be portraying. This image was an HDR image taken in bright sunlight during the hottest part of the day. It was processed into a black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, the the background original was layered on top and a black layer mask was added to bring back a hint of color in the windows. Topaz Lens Effects was used to add a slight vignette effect, and finally OnOne PhotoFrame acid burn controlled 05 was added. For both Topaz and OnOne website links, see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog.
It appears that if you have a really nice image but the colors just do not create the correct effect, or if the image gets lost in all the powerful colors or brightness of the day, give the black and white or sepia tones a shot. You do not have to have one of the mentioned filters – Photoshop has a wonderful Black and White Adjustment layer that also adds any monochrome color. Great way to get a quick impression of whether this effect will work on your image. Definitely do not write off an image just because of color issues – it may turn out to be a great shot!…..Digital Lady Syd