Anything Photoshop or Photography

Archive for October, 2011

Loving Both Filters!

The above image is one of the beautiful Lion Posts outside Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, which used to be the Ponce de Leon Hotel built in 1887. Absolutely beautiful building. Cannot miss it if you go to this wonderful historic city.

Wow – all I can say is that I cannot decide which program I like best – NIK Color Efex 4 or Topaz Black and White Effects. So different and so much alike! I keep trying the same image in each program and get totally different looks but both are really nice! What to do, what to do!

The top image was processed with NIK Color Efex Pro 4 using the Film Efex: Vintage filter on Film Type 14; Detail Extractor filter; and Brilliance/Warmth filter. I used the Sharpening Tool in Photoshop to sharpen the eyes and mane of the Lion. Then Grunge 03 OnOne PhotoFrame was applied in a dark navy. I loved how it became very artsy and colorful. And the background detail is incredible!

Topaz Black and White Effect produced a very different feel that can be seen by hovering over the image. Same exact image from Lightroom except this time I wanted to see what how this image would look as a black and white. I used the new Platinum Collection – Platinum VI as a starting point. What really improved this image was using the Local Adjustment Dodge brush and Detail brush on the shadows in the face and the lamp. This really brought the eyes out very clearly. Using the Color brush, the lights was added back into the lamp. A black border, dark edge exposure, and dark vignette was added. In Photoshop the Sharpen Tool was used on the eyes a little more and the mane. Overall a very different feel to the same image.

I really love both filters and I do not believe I can recommend one over the other. Both totally great. Give the trials a try and see what you think!…..Digital Lady Syd

Related Digital Lady Syd Blog Links:
Topaz B&W Effects Plug-in – A Real Winner!
NIK Color Efex Pro 4.0 – First Try!
The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter from NIK CEP 4
Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in
Sunny Preset for Topaz Black and White Effects
NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – Digital Lady Syd’s Review!
The Art Corner: Painting and Sculpture by Tassaert
Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4

Spooky Halloween Fun!

A little Halloween fun here. Basically using the Halloween brushes I listed in my “Halloween Resources – Time to Go Batty!” blog of a few days ago. The same two sets of Halloween brushes were used (Obsidian Dawn’s Halloween Vector Photoshop brushes and Halloween Brush Set by anodyne at Deviant Art), the orange sky was Obsidian Dawn’s Clouds 16 and 17, the beige background texture is from ShadowHouse Creation – Assorted Paper TS-P-6, my favorite font Fantaisie Artistique font, and a grunge background (acid burn controlled 11) from OnOne PhotoFrames (see sidebar for link to OnOne Software website) was used. Some background grunge was added and that is about it.

It is pretty easy to get a nice effect – just use lots of layer masks and brushes – it really is fun to put it all together.

Hope everyone has a great Halloween! …… Digital Lady Syd

Settings for Vivid Drawing Look ACR/Lightroom Preset and NIK Color Efex Pro 4 Pseudo HDR Recipe

The image is from The Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland. Deacon Bodie has a very colorful history and this sign locates a pub named in his honor.

The above image used SJ-Vivid Drawing Look preset as a starting point in Adobe Camera Raw (note: change file extension to .xmp in zip folder to get file to work) and Lightroom. In my Fun Photoshop Blog “Pseudo HDR Using NIK Color Efex Pro 4“, I created a recipe for NIK Color Efex Pro called SJ-Pseudo HDR1. This recipe was applied without any changes to it. Back in Photoshop a Curves Adjustment Layer was added, and a High Pass Filter (radius 9.1) applied to a duplicate layer (set to Soft Blend Mode) was used to sharpen the image. That is it. Hoover over the image to see how it looks with just the Vivid Drawing Look preset applied.

Settings for Presets

For those of you who do not like to download files or might want to tweak what I have created, here are the settings for my favorite HDR feel ACR and Lightroom preset. Also the recipe I put together for NIK Color Efex Pro4 has been provided.

SJ Vivid Drawing Look settings: To make this preset in either Lightroom Develop Panel or Adobe Camera Raw, use these settings: Basic section: Exposure -o.32, Recovery +38, Fill Light +72, Blacks +12, Brightness +52, Contrast +55, Clarity +54, Vibrance 0 and Saturation 0; Tone Curve section: Highlights -30, Lights +16, Darks +23, Shadows -23, and Point Curve Linear; Split Toning Section: Highlights – Hue 50, Saturation 11, Balance 0, Shadows – Hue 50, and Saturation 34; Sharpening section: Amount 48, Radius 1.0, Detail 35, and Masking 69; Noise Reduction section: Luminance 82, Detail 95, Contrast 44, Color 20, and Detail 50; and Post-Crop Vignetting section: Style – Highlight Priority, Amount -18; Midpoint +47, Roundness 0; Feather +57, and Highlights 0.

SJ Pseudo HDR 1:  To make this recipe, the filters and settings are as follows: Tonal Contrast (Highlights -37%; Midtones -30%; Shadows -12%; Saturation +5%; Contrast Type set to Standard; and Shadows +58%; Darken/Lighten Center (Use#2 for lighten area; Center Luminosity -10%; Border Luminosity -64%; and Center Size +30%; Place Center in image); and Detail Extractor (Detail Extractor +69%; Contrast +56%; Saturation +16%; Effect Radius – Fine; and Shadows +14%.

I hope you put these presets to good use. I think they are both good starting points to creating that great pseudo HDR effect. Have fun. Have trying these out…..Digital Lady Syd


Halloween Resources – Time To Go Batty!

Not sure how everyone elses kids are or were, but I think mine liked Halloween as much as Christmas! So to kick off this (at least 2nd biggest) holiday season, I created the above image.

Only a few resources were used and they are provided free for our use. All the objects were from Obsidian Dawn’s SS-Halloween-Vectors brushes (and include a lot more than what is used above) and are definitely of the high quality you expect from this site. The cobweb in the upper right corner was provided from a nice set of brushes called pureanodyne_halloween at Deviant Art – these are actually from a set created in 2004. The Happy Halloween font is called Groovy Ghosties and can be downloaded from And my signature font is my favorite fun font – Fantaisie Artistique from DaFont. The white cracks and grungy textures are from OnOne PhotoFrames (see sidebar for link to site) called Taufer Texture 01 and Grunge 05. Now this effect could very easily be done in Photoshop using a few creative brushes on a couple layers, but the plug-in was really fast and I could experiment with different colors and textures very quickly. I guess that is the main reason why you buy Photoshop plug-ins – they all have to be based on some form of Photoshop technique.

Try out a few of these Halloween brushes – they do a really nice job for this time of year!  Have fun experimenting and look out for low flying bats!…..Digital Lady Syd

Think Pink! Rally for the Cure Pink Rose

Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month in the United States, last week I participated in a “Rally for the Cure” golf tournament. This beautiful pink rose came from this event. I am really pleased with the results for the above image that used the new Mixer Brush panel from one of my favorite Photoshop gurus, Russell Brown. Hover over the image to see the before photograph used to create this painterly effect.

One of the best new features in Adobe Photoshop CS5 are the Mixer  Brushes. (See my Fun Photoshop Blog “Adobe Photoshop CS5’s Mixer Brushes” where I talk about how to use and create your own Mixer Brushes.) Dr. Brown created a new panel to load into Photoshop called the Painting Assistant that makes the whole painter process much simpler. I was able to create the above in very little time using this new panel. Basically it contains six button steps with very clear instructions listed – just click each button after you finish each step. This is pretty ingenious in my mind, but then that is what Dr. Brown is known for! To download the panel and a video, click here and scroll down to the 6th item. A text layer using the “Old Script” font was created and set on a slant using Free Transform – then a layer mask was used to paint out the lettering from the rose.

Give this technique a try, especially if you like the painterly look. It is very easy to do since the Mixer Brushes are already set up for your use. And if you get a chance to participate in a “Rally for the Cure” event, please do – they are always lots of fun and the proceeds could not go to a better cause!…..Digital Lady Syd

Where Am I?

What I think turned out kind of nice is the application of the free Adobe Pixel Bender plug-in using the favorite Oil Paint effect. It is very easy to figure out the 5 sliders. I did this awhile ago and thought it shows one of my best results. A layer mask was used to remove the effect from certain parts of the image.

Okay – guess you could tell this was in a beautiful tropical place. This is an image of the Ka’anapali Beach Club in Maui, Hawaii.

Go ahead and download Pixel Bender if you have not tried it already and take a whirl at something quite different and fun to do!…..Digital Lady Syd.

The Art Corner: Painting and Sculpture by Tassaert

The above piece of artwork is found in the East Sculpture Hall of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and was sculpted in 1774-1778 in Paris by Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert, a lesser-know Flemish sculptor who lived from 1727 to 1788. I found this piece to be very charming once you understand what the head in the artwork represents. The children are so detailed and sweet looking.  From the National Gallery of Art’s website: “With Clodion’s Poetry and Music (also located in the same area of the Gallery), this allegory was one of four that were meant to bring to life the abstract concepts of the arts and sciences. They were commissioned by Louis XV’s finance minister Abbé (Joseph-Marie) Terray for his elaborate Paris residence (to decorate the dining room of his Parisian mansion). The subject was an appropriate one for Terray, since he also served briefly as the director of the king’s buildings with overall responsibility for the state of the arts in France. Painting, sculpture, music, and literature are celebrated by the young cupidlike figures in the two works here; other children carved by two other artists represented geometry, geography, architecture, and astronomy.” The last two pieces, Geometry and Architecture by Jean-Jacques Caffieri created in 1776 and Astronomy and Geometry by Felix Lecomte created in 1778 are located at the National Trust, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, England. I think Tassaert’s sculpture is the best of the four in the series.

I processed this piece in the Photoshop plug-in Topaz’s Black and White Effects (see sidebar for link) using the Warm Tone I preset as a starting point, then adding a Quad Tone Effect (Color 1 Region was set to black with slider set to 0.oo, Color 2 Region set to R75/G78/B96 with slider at 142.5; Color 3 Region set to R222/G220/B172 with slider at 228.9 and Color 4 Region set to White with slider at 255.0 – these tones made a very nice soft contrast for this type of image). Some Local Adjustments using the Details and Burn Brushes were used on the sculpture itself. Finally a vignette was added and centered on the children to make them appear spotlighted. Be sure to create a preset if you like the results.

If you get a chance, try to go to one of the two places showing the sculptures discussed. They are very interesting pieces. I did not get an image of Poetry and Music so that is on my list for my next trip to the National Gallery of Art!…..Digital Lady Syd

Colorful Blown Out Look Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw Preset

While in Hawaii, after taking a lot of beautiful flower images, I created the above effect as a Lightroom preset that I have used many times. It looks especially nice for a calendar image. Hover over image above to see the original.

This preset I call “Colorful Blown Out” and mainly has Basic and Luminance settings. You can download the free Lightroom preset here and the Adobe Camera Raw preset here. For a softer look, try increasing the Recovery slider and the Brightness slider. It is a good starting point for a very nice flower look. For information on where to download the calendar template and how to apply it, see my Photoshop Fun Blog Free Calendar Template for instructions.

Give it a try on other types of images too. Hope you enjoy!…..Digital Lady Syd

Sunny Preset for Topaz Black and White Effects

This image of Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor in St. Augustine, Florida, was adjusted using Topaz Black and White Effects. I wrote a longer blog on trying to achieve this same effect using other plug-ins on my Fun Photoshop Blog “Same Image – Different Plug-ins.” Hover over the image to see original. It took literally two minute to get this effect. There was just one further adjustment made in Photoshop which, unfortunately when adding most plug-ins, there is some noise created. I took the image back into Adobe Camera Raw (see my blog “Edit Layers with ACR Script“) which I prefer over the other Noise Reduction plug-ins. The Luminance was set to +75, Detail +37 and Contrast +48. I was really pleased with the color and how it looks on the water and the sky, especially around the horizon line.  I wanted to share with you how I created this sunny preset in Topaz’s Black and White Effects.

First the Van Dyke Brown Collection was used with the Wenge Dynamic Preset. This gives the correct settings in the Conversion Section on Basic Exposure sliders and the Adaptive Exposure sliders.

In the Finishing Touches Section, Film Grain should be unchecked unless you want some graininess. This image does not use it. Next the Quad Tones needed to be changed for this effect. By clicking on each of the color swatches, the following colors can be changed: Color 1 Region set to R1G1B12 and slider to 9.60; Color 2 Region set to R63 G78 B85 and slider to 95.97; Color 3 Region set to R216G211B129 and slider to 141.2; and Color4 Region set to R255G254B255 and slider set to 237.0. This is the key to the effect and gives the preset the sunny feel.

The Edge Exposure area is optional but the above image used these settings. The Edge Exposure settings should be set to: Top – Edge Size o.26, Edge Exposure (-0.22), and Edge Transition 0.32; Bottom – Edge Size 0.19, Edge Exposure (-0.43), and Edge Transition 0.27; Right and Left set to their defaults since there is no edge on the sides – Edge Size 0.20, Edge Exposure 0.00, and Edge Transition 0.20.

Finally check Transparency and set the Overall Transparency slider to 1.00.

It is important to create a preset now either in My Collection or the individual Effects Presets so it can be reused again and again.

Hope this will give you a chance to try out a new Quad Tone look (see Tidbits Blog “Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in“) – I plan on making some more presets in this program soon. Try out this look and see if you like it as much as I do…..Digital Lady Syd

“Perfect” Perfect Layers!

I keep finding excuses to use Perfect Layers, this fairly new plug-in for Lightroom, by OnOne Software. I really did not think that I would use it that much, but then I start playing around with an image, and there I go, back into Perfect Layers! It is so easy to try out the effects of my favorite textures on my images, and it is easy to stack virtual copies (and other textures or images – the layers can be dragged up or down in the stack) to get a totally unexpected look.

For this image of the London Eye, I cropped the original image and then created a Lomographic Preset (follow this very simple video from Michael Rather at the Digital Photography Connection on “Creating a Lomography Image) on a Virtual Copy of the cropped image. Select both the original and virtual copy images and open them up in Perfect Layers to create two layers stacked. A new image, Shadowhouse Creations Oil Painting-5 texture, was then imported and stacked as a layer on top and set to Hard Light. The top two layer’s opacity was adjusted to taste, and voila – a pretty nice texturized image! (By the way, I keep using this set of textures all the time – gives a real painterly canvas look to the image.) Here is a link to Lomo Presets from Matt Kloskowski’s Lightroom Killer Tips that have similar settings but a slightly different color and look. I have actually seen presets with a blue tint instead of green for this effect.

Definitely give this plug-in a try if you have Lightroom. I believe there is room for a lot of creativity and it is much quicker than going into Photoshop to see what results you are getting. Have fun creating!…..Digital Lady Syd

Quad Tones in Topaz Black and White Effects Plug-in

This image is of an old cannon on the grounds of the Historic Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia. I do love NIK’s new Color Efex Pro 4 plug-in, but I keep going back to Topaz’s new Black and White Effects plug-in. (Hover over image to see original shot.)

The Topaz Black and White Effects preset I created gives a really nice sunny vintage feel and I think it is great for that historic look. To create the preset, select the Van Dyke Brown Collection Effect and Chamoisee Cyan preset as a starting point. The trick to getting this look is to set up in Finishing Touches the Quad Tones using these settings:  Color 1 Region (R1 G1 B12) – 15.08; Color 2 Region (R63 G78 B85) – 143.9; Color 3 Region (R216 G211 B129) – 227.5; and Color 4 Region (R255 G254 B237) – 225.0. The sliders will need to be adjusted depending upon the image used. The Transparency setting was set to 1.00. For this image a small light Edge was added.  Also, I was able to brush away the distortion over the back part of the left wheel using the Burn tool with a large brush and lightly clicking a few times, then using a smaller brush to run over the details just a bit. It totally disappeared! These brushes work wonders! To bring out the cannon a little more, back in Photoshop the image was sharpened using a High Pass Filter set to 9.1 Radius, a black mask was added to cover up the effect, and then by painting just the cannon on the mask, only it becomes sharp.

I really like the Quad Tone effect in this plug-in. Topaz has created a very nice video on how to use this section called “Quick Tip – Quad Toning Explored.”  This may be the key to why it is hard to reproduce this look in other plug-ins.

For more information on this plug-in, see these related posts:

Fun Photoshop Blog: “Topaz B&W Effects Plug-In-A Real Winner!
Tidbits Blog: “Topaz B&W Effects vs. Nik’s Silver Efex Pro
Tidbits Blog: “Just Another Topaz Black and White Effect Example

The New Film Efex-Vintage Filter From NIK CEP 4

I love this image – the clouds reflecting in this building on I-4 in Orlando were beautiful! Hover over image to see original image. The stack contains these filter effects: Darken/Lighten Center, Brilliance/Warmth, Tonal Contrast, Image Borders, Dark Contrasts, and Film Efex: Vintage (another one of the new filters that has so many different film types that it is hard to choose one). Below is what the Film Efex: Vintage screen looks like to give you an idea of how many choices you have just for this one new filter.

In this NIK interface image, you can see how all the filter effects stack. For just this filter there are 29 film types to choose from – the one showing is Type 17 but I actually ended up using Type 11. There are so many sliders to adjust to get just the look you want. (In case you cannot read them, from top to bottom they are: Saturation, Warmth, Vignette, Brightness, Grain per Pixel, Film Strength, Film Type (drop down list) and Opacity. The Opacity slider at the bottom will do a final effect amount so the image does not look overdone. Below is another example of what a nice effect this filter will give. Only this filter with Film Type 16 was applied and it brought out the texture of the wall very nicely.

Just using this one filter and trying out different effects will be a lot of fun! Definitely give this filter a second look – much more than it appears at first glance!…..Digital Lady Syd

PS:  Check out my Fun Photoshop Blog “NIK Color Efex Pro – Digital Lady Syd’s Review” and my Tidbit Blog “NIK Color Efex Pro 4 – First Try!” for more information on this great plug-in from NIK.