Hi & welcome to my PS blog! This blog is for full PS although some steps will also work in PSE. Most actions, unless stated are not PSE compatiable. I do try to make an action for PSE from time to time. I hope you have fun here and learn some things along the way. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment! :O)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random tips for a random day...

I'm feeling pretty random today. My thoughts are everywhere and no where. But I just felt the urge to post today. So I thought of some random things I do in CS4 fairly regularly. I wanted to share them with you hoping they might help you as well. And at the bottom I'll show you my FAVORITE thing for editing!

So to start off today's random...ness, I thought I'd show you the best, fastest and most natural method of creating and edge burn/vignette. There are hundreds of different ways of doing it and I've tried MANY. To date tho, this is my favorite. It's really fast and a very natural look. I used to lower my edge burn opacity down to 10-30% usually because they were pretty strong and just didn't look natural. Now with this method, I range between 30-75% opacity. I don't use edge burns as often anymore (the newness & excitement wore off) but when I do, this is my go to method!

Open your image and duplicate the layer (ctrl/j). Make sure you are on the top photo layer. Select your Rectangle Marque tool...no feather needed. Make your selection, keeping in mind the edge burn will be on the OUTside of you selection. Notice the Refine Edge button. Once you've made your selection it should look something like this...

Once you have your selection, hit the Refine Edges button and put in anywhere between 100-200 in the Feather section. I THINK Radious is default to 1 and I just leave it be. I shoot in RAW so my images are very large, I always use 200. But for smaller images, you'll want a smaller number. Play with the feather option here for different size pics. Then hit okay...

Now hit the delete key. What this does is delete the center which is what you've selected. And because you put a 200 Feather on it, it will feather it nicely, for a smooth natrual transition...

So you are probably wondering what the heck is going on because obviously your image looks the exact same. We are about to change that. Now hit ctrl/d to deselect and get rid of the selection. Now go to your blend options and change it to Multiply. Now you edge is DARK. This is your edge burn. You can play with different blend mode options for different edge looks. You will probably also want to play with the opcaity. At 100%, it's pretty strong. I chose 50%. Now normally I wouldn't put an edge burn on this shot, but I just grabbed this Vegas pic for a quick example.

And if you want, you can change the order up of changing the blend mode so that you can see the burn right away. Right after you duplicate your photo layer, you can then change it to Multiply and then make your selection and so on. Some prefer to see the dark before making their selection. You may already do this type of edge burn, but if not...give it a try. You might prefer it and you might hate it! :O) Whateva floats your boat.

Then next tip I wanted to share is also in my Basic workflow post, but I wanted to go over it again because I LOVE it. It's about dodging (lightening) & burning (darkening) certain areas of your photo. I never use PS's dodge/burn tools anymore. This is the only way I dodge/burn and have it recorded into my All in One action. This method works on 1 layer, so you can do both on one layer and have control with your brush opacity.

I think the key to dodging/burning is LOW opacity brush strokes. It will take more time, but will result in a more natural final image. What I love about dodging/burning are two things. One...you can change the attention of your photo and where the light falls...within reason of course. Now I burn much more than I dodge. And what I LOVE about burning the most is that it can take dull flat colors and areas of your image and make them deep and rich. You can also use this layer to make an edge burn or a faded edge.

First thing you need to do is create a new layer. This step is important. You do not want to create a new layer in the layers panel. Either hit ctrl/shift/n or go up to Layers>New>New Layer. When the dialog box comes up, change the blend mode to either Overlay (which I use) or Soft Light. Then under the blend mode, check the box to fill with 50% gray. Here is what the dialog box looks like...

Now when you look at your layers panel, you'll see that the new layer is now gray, but you can't see it on your photo. Now select your brush tool. To burn, change your foreground color to BLACK. Set your opacity to about 10% and your flow to about 15%. For some odd reason, I always go 5% up from my opacity for my flow. I'm odd that way! Ha! Now just paint on your image where you want to burn/darken or enrich colors. This works great on grass, concrete or asphalt. I like to use it on the background a lot so that I can deepen/darken it and it helps the subject POP against the darker background. Then to dodge, you just change your foreground color to white and I would lower your opacity/flow rate. You have to be more careful when dodging because it can strip/fade color and leave it lifeless. So be very careful when dodging and go LIGHT. It's better to go over a section a few times at a VERY low opacity brush, then to blast it and have that blasted area look ghost like and faded. And for that reason, I NEVER dodge eyes. I hate the vacant, lifeless, no detail look it gives. Not insulting anyone who does, I'm just sayin! Ha! :O) And a great way to see how it's effecting your image is to toggle the dodge/burn layer on and off. That is really when you get to see how well your image has transformed!

Here is my before/after shot. It's subtle which I think is what you want. You want baby steps that slowly transform your images. Not one step that says WOW...look at me. Side by side it isn't as noticable. But when I toggled the layer on and off I could see how much I was able to control where the light fell on the image and how I was able to deepin and enrich the colors. And let's say you want to burn one section just a tad and want to burn another section a lot...just change your opacity/flow rate as you dodge or burn different areas for COMPLETE control. And of course, you can always lower the opacity of the layer. So give it a try and I think you'll prefer this method of dodging/burning.

Now in talking about deepening and enriching colors, I thought about a tool that I use only once in a while, but am VERY fond of. It's called the Sponge tool. Before I saw a tut on ILP, I'd never even heard of it. Now I think it's great. The sponge tool allows you to do two things...Saturate areas of your photo or desaturate areas of your photo. Again the key here is LOW opacity brush strokes.

So lets say you have an image with pretty greens and flowers etc and you want to bring out the colors a BIT. Just a slight selective color pop without risking your colors going neon and only on certain parts of your image.

Open the image and duplicate the layer (ctrl/j). You ALWAYS want to work on duplicate layers so you can control the opacity of that layer. Now hit o on your keyboard. If the sponge tool doesn't pop up, hold down the shift key while pressing o until it pops up...or just click on it. I'm a keyboard shortcut JUNKIE! :O)

Now at the top it gives you the option to Saturate or Desaturate. Select Saturate. Now change the opacity of the sponge tool to about 10%. Again, we want it to look natural. Now simply start painting on the image where you want the colors saturated. Here is a screenshot...

And here is a quick before/after shot. Excuse all my Vegas pics. They are the only ones on my laptop right now because I'm still editing them and haven't moved them to my EHD yet. As you'll see, it's not a crazy difference. Because we want subtle improvements. But look at the logo on the Luxor Hotel, the Sphynx and the trees/grass/flowers. Just a nice color pop! This method will give you a brighter color pop vs burning will give you a richer deeper more urban color pop.

You also have the option to desaturate. I over saturated the same original photo for this tut. This is NOT how I edit...haha! So now my colors are wonky and I want to tone it down a bit. So you do the exact same thing, but this time choose Desaturate instead. You can use a bit of a higher opacity for this, but I wouldn't go too high or your colors can start to look gray. I've used this method when I have shots where the magentas in my kids clothing can be overwhelming to the shot. And the great thing is you can Sat or Desat on the same layer just by choosing either one and playing with the opacity of the Sponge tool!

So now that I'm on the subject of color pop, I learned a cool little trick for giving a good color pop to your shots. I will say this before hand, it's STRONG and you WILL need to lower the opacity of the layer pretty low and you WILL most likely want to mask it off of skin tones. But it's a great method for landscape shots or portraits where there is a lot of scenery in your shot. Again, I like to edit hot and dial down, so the method here is pretty strong. I'd rather have to tone it down, then want it more and not have enough. KWIM? :O)

First thing you want to do is duplicate your photo layer (ctrl/j) and I like to name my layers. So I name it LAB color POP. Yes, I said LAB, but don't worry, it's EASY and won't degrade the quality of your image from switching. Now go to Image>Mode>LAB Color. Here's a screenshot...

IMPORTANT...a dialog box will come up and ask you if you want to Flatten...choose DON'T FLATTEN...

Now you are in LAB mode. Not too scary huh? Open a curve adjustment layer. You'll see in the drop down menu you see Lightness (for the L in LAB)...don't do anything with this channel. Click the arrow on the drop down menu and choose a (for the A in LAB....seeing a pattern...lol). Now take the top right anchor and pull it in a bit, keeping it touching the top of the box. This is where you have some control on how MUCH color pop you'll have. The further you go in, the stronger the color pop. Then go to the bottom left anchor and do the same. It's important to pull both in the SAME amount or you will get bad color shifts and casts. Here is what my channel a looks like..

Now go to channel b and do the exact same thing. Again, making sure that you pull the top & bottom the same amount and the same amount as you did in channel a. Here's is what channel b looks like...

Now we want to go back to RGB Color but we cannot do it with an adjustment layer open. So right click on the curves adjustment layer and choose merge down. So you are merging down that layer onto the top photo layer. Then go back to Image>Mode>RBG Color. Again it will ask you if you want to flatten...choose DON'T FLATTEN or you will no have control to play with layer opacity or masking...

Now you have a top photo layer that has the LAB color POP on it. I like to add a white layer mask so that I can mask out any areas that I want less color pop. Or you could add a black layer mask if you only want to pop selective areas of your photo. Then play with the opacity of the layer. I recorded an action for this so I can do it in the push of 1 button.

Here is a quick before and after with my opacity on the after at 30%...

And last final thing for the day. I wanted to share with you something that has made my editing life SO much easier and a joy to do.

This was my Mother's Day present and I will NEVER edit without one again...

Please excuse my shots and colors here. I didn't have the original of these, so I had to pull them from my photography message board and they are a MESS. But this is my Wacom Bamboo Fun Medium tablet! I HEART it and am ready to marry it! Masking is actually EASY & FUN now. Making selections is a BREEZE. So...if you have some extra money and mask/select a lot, or like to draw and create things in PS...you really should get this! You can get them in electronic stores, Amazon, Camera stores and online camera stores. You won't regret it!

So that's my randomness for the day. I hope you find something in this post that will be helpful! Have a great weekend girls! :O)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My basic workflow...

**Quick disclaimer…I am not a PRO, I am not in business. I am just a MWAC who is obsessed with taking and editing pictures. I have had no formal training. Just what I’ve learned online and in books. So please take what works for you out of this tut and leave the rest. Each photo needs something different. And as with everything in PS (Photoshop) there are a million and one ways to skin a cat! Ha! This is just the process that I have found works for me. I am constantly learning and evolving and my steps do change. But for the last 6 months or so, this has been my consistent workflow and I’m pretty happy with it!**

I finally have a good consistent work flow and I thought I’d share how I edit my photos. This is just a basic clean it up standard edit. It will not go into fixing blemishes, how to even out skin tones (which this pic could use lol), enhancing eyes or color correcting. I will go over how * I * do that in another post. It’s nothing to write home about but is meant to give you a starting point and then you can adjust it from there. This is for good SOOC shots, or cleaned up in ACR and good images when brought into my CS4.

Here is what the SOOC camera, ACR edits and final edits look like side by side...

And here is the SOOC & final basic edit side by side...

I shoot in RAW, so the first thing I do is open my RAW images (.CR2 for Canon and I believe it’s .NET for Nikon) through Bridge. It opens my images in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw). I won’t go into the boring details that I do in Bridge. But I do love me some Bridge! Ha!

I first take the WB (white balance) picker and try to find a neutral gray area to check. If I can find one, this works the best because it reads your photo and gives the most true WB. If I cannot find a neutral gray color, I will click other areas that are close and sometimes get lucky and sometimes will find a decent spot but still need to play with the sliders a bit to get it more accurate. If I cannot find any neutral area in my photo, then I start with the presets. Most of the time As Shot works just fine for outdoor photos with some slider adjustments. Indoors is a whole nother world. Lol! I shoot in AWB (Auto White Balance) because I shoot in RAW. If I try a preset, I will usually try Auto and it works pretty well, but always always play with the sliders after I select the preset because they are still usually off a bit. I find the Daylight preset to be too warm for outside shots, even though I do prefer my images on the warmer side vs the cooler side.

Once I have my WB where I want it, I will play with the Exposure slider IF needed. If my image is a bit underexposed I will up it. If it’s a bit over exposed I will usually leave the Exposure slider alone and play with the Recovery Slider and Blacks slider. I find I prefer these two sliders together for overexposed images vs the Exposure slider by itself. Just seems to be a cleaner way to get the colors and richness back in. But if it’s very overexposed, then I’ll play with the Exposure slider as well. Then once I’ve worked on my WB, Exposure/Recovery/Blacks sliders, I will up the clarity a bit. Don’t go too far or your images will have too much contrast and become harsh looking. The clarity slider gives you well…Clarity! Ha! It helps defog the image a bit and gives it some depth. I never go above 30 on portraits and usually much lower. But on landscape/random/flower shots, I’ll up it a bit above 30 depending on the pic and the look I’m going for. Then if I’m feeling colorful I’ll up the Vibrancy slider a bit. This works differently than the Saturation slider that I NEVER use. It takes colors that are dull in your image and ups them a bit. It does not touch colors that are already properly saturated. I use this very slightly if at all on portraits unless there is a lot of scenery/sky. But I do use it on landscapes/random/flower shots. And that is all I do in ACR. You can do MUCH more in ACR, but I prefer to work in layers. If I am batch processing, I will open a set of shots taken in the same lighting, edit the first, then select all and synchronize them. I then look at each one and make any small adjustments if needed. If I’m editing a big batch, I will hit done so that the ACR edits are saved, but so I do not have to open them all in CS4 and risk it running too slow. If I only have a few, then I hit Open Images and do the rest in CS4.

Here is what my ACR screen looks like once I've made my ACR adjustments...

I recorded an All in Once action with my steps, with each layer set up for what I’ve found works for my Canon photos. If I’m editing my friends Nikon images, I have to scale this way back. I’ve found that my Canon shots are much more dull and flat which I’ve found I like a LOT because I feel I have more control & I LOVE to edit. I’m a crazy control freak with my photos…and a big OCD! Shhh…don’t tell anyone! And the Nikon shots I’ve taken in RAW on her camera are much more rich & colorful. Which works for some because there is less to do in PP’ing (post processing=editing), but I prefer a blanker slate.

**Disclaimer…this is in NO way bashing Nikon or saying anything bad about the brand because they are AWESOME…really! Just the experiences I have had personally with shooting images from my entry level XSi and my friends entry level D60. So please do not shoot me Nikon girls…lol…it’s just my personal preference! I love you too! Heck, I love everyone who shoots with ANY camera. As long as you are taking pictures and enjoying the process! End of disclaimer! **

Once I open the image(s) in CS4 I hit shift/f9…which is my All in One Action. The first thing it does is run my TRA Oh Snap action which is the EXACT same as PW’s free Boost action in Set 1 (and you can get Set 2 here as well...they are GREAT) It contains 3 layers…a high pass sharpen layer which works as a Defog. I have the opacity of this layer set to 75%. Then the next layer is a strong S Curve. This layer as is, is CRAZY & makes skin tones wonky and yellow. So I have my action set up to change the blend mode to Luminosity. Now I do not have wonky skin tones. I have it set to 50% opacity. Then the final layer in this action is a very slight Saturation boost. I’m not a big Saturation fan because I choose to do that with burning or every once in a while the sponge tool on a dup layer. But this is so subtle, that I leave it as is. Then I run a slight S curve and change the blend mode to Luminosity as well and have the layer set to 50% opacity. Yes, I could probably omit the slight S curve and just use a higher opacity on the strong S Curve, but this is just my crazy wacky way! Ha! Then I run a basic levels adjustment layer and here is where I have control the specific parts of my photos. You have control over specific parts of your images with curves too, I just prefer to control the shadow/midtones/highlights in levels. But you CAN do it in curves too & we did with the 2 S curve layers which gave us contrast. See my previous post on Curves to get the basics of using them for controlling the shadows/midtones/highlights. Many would probably disagree with me, and that’s okay! :O) I know that curves are the more preferred method. And again, we did use curves for contrast which is done by shadows/midtones/highlights. I just like to have a little more control with a final layer. For my levels adjustment layer I have the action set up to have the shadows slider at 5, the midtone slider at 1.05 and the highlights slider at 250…blend mode left on Normal and opacity left at 100%. This layer does not effect skin tones.

Then my action runs a dodge/burn layer. It’s the ONLY way I dodge/burn now. I learned this from Scott Kelby’s CS4 book. It creates a new layer via ctrl/shift/n…not through the new layer icon in the layers panel. When the dialog box comes up, I have it set to blend mode Overlay (you can also use Soft Light) and the box under that says fill with neutral 50% gray checked. Then my action is also recorded to go down to the photo layer and duplicate it and name it Noise Reduction and add a white layer mask.

So once I hit shift/f9 and my action runs, it’s now on the dup noise reduction layer. If I shot at ISO 400 or above, I run my Noiseware Filter from Imagenomic because my XSi is HORRIBLE with noise…ARG! I LOVE this filter. I hate noise unless I’m going creative, so it does get a lot of use. This is a personal choice. I usually use the Portrait preset in the drop down menu, but for HIGH noise I will play with Strong Luma Noise and Full Strong Luma Noise. The Luma Noise options are not for the faint of heart. They will really smooth out your photo and skin. They way I think about Noise is I want to smooth out the noise in the photo so it’s ready for sharpening later in editing. I HATE to sharpen noise, it looks rough to me. I make sure it’s on a duplicate layer so that I can play with the opacity of the layer if needed and the white layer mask so that I can mask with a low opacity brush, anywhere I want to lessen the effect.

Then I go through my layers to adjust anything that needs adjusting. For the most part, on a good SOOC (straight out of camera) shot, I have it set up so that I do not have to adjust anything. If I do need to adjust layers, it’s usually the opacity of the strong S Curve in the TRA Oh Snap action…and I never up it…only lower it. I usually stay within 15-50%, usually around 30% depending on the image. Then sometimes I need to lower the opacity of my slight S Curve, but this one is pretty subtle, so I usually keep it around 30-50%. Since the blend modes of both of these were recorded to be changed to Luminosity, I never have to do the extra steps. Then I may go into the levels adjustment layer and play with the settings a bit. But for the most part, the settings I recorded it with work pretty well and I always leave the opacity at 100% and the blend mode to Normal for this layer.

Then if I want to do any dodging (lightning) or burning (darkening), I go up to the dodge/burn layer and do it all here. I love burning. I’ve found it a wonderful way to saturate colors and get nice rich deep colors. So to burn, I select my brush tool, opacity around 10% & flow 15% and change my foreground color to BLACK. Then I start burning where I want it a bit darker or richer. You can also use this method for free hand edge burns. Then to dodge, I set my brush opacity to about 5% (go much lighter on dodging or it can look ghost like and faded), with my flow at 10%, foreground color set to WHITE and paint anywhere that needs to be lightened. I do not dodge much. Sometimes if a face has some shadows on it, I’ll touch it up a bit. But then again, I’m learning to like shadows. You can dodge the eyes to brighten them up, but I never do. I feel it takes out all of the detail and leaves them flat. I have a method for working on eyes that I’ll post about another time which only includes a curves & levels adjustment layer and no sharpening.

Here is what my layers panel looks like after the action...

Here is a close up look at the strong S Curve from the TRA action...Oh Snap...

Here is an up close look at my slight S Curve layer...

And here is an up close look at my levels adjustment layer...

Now once my image(s) are done and I am happy…it’s time to sharpen. I now flatten all of the layers of my All in One action.

I have found a new way to sharpen thanks to Scott Kelby and I LOVE it! It’s the only way I sharpen now. I have this action set to short key shift/f10. This action is set to duplicate the photo layer for opacity control. It runs a USM of Amount 125, Radious 2, Threshold 3. I prefer to edit a bit hot and dial it down for more control. Then right after the USM is run, it goes to Edit>Fade USM. Then the blend mode is changed to Luminosity. It’s VERY important to do the Edit>Fade USM right after hitting okay in the USM dialog box. It will not work the same way if you just change the blend mode of the layer to Luminosity. Then I also have the action recorded to add a white layer mask. So that way I can mask out any over sharpening…which now that I use this method is rare. If I have to do it, it’s only in the hair and I’ll do it with a brush opacity of about 30%. And I can lower the opacity of the layer if I choose. The great thing about editing the blend mode to Luminosity right after running the USM, is that the USM is only sharpening the Luminosity of your images and not sharpening the color of your images! It doesn’t give you any wonky colors or over sharpening halos. It works wonders on the eyes & lashes. But again, can be a bit much on the hair. Nothing a little low opacity masking can’t fix!

Here is a look at the Luminosity USM Sharpen layer...screenshot probably NOT needed...lol

And that is my workflow. On this shot I might do a little color correcting with CS4s wonderful new TAT tool that is teaching me to see colors and I would do a curves & levels adjustment layer on her eyes. But for this tut, I will leave it as is. It may seem like a lot, but since I have it all recorded to actions and assigned short keys, if the image is good SOOC, I can edit each pic in about 2 minutes. A little more if the shot needs a little more work or masking. But now, I hit shift/f9 and make a couple quick adjustments, flatten and hit shift/f10 and I’m good to go!

So try to find a workflow that works for you and save yourself some time and record it in an action. I would love to share my action with you, but since I use the TRA action IN my action, I cannot share it.

Again, this is just my way and I believe in different strokes for different folks. Just find what floats your boat and have fun!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I will do my best to help! :O)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Layer Masks, adding textures & a TIP..

Layer masks are the BEST thing EVER created. And if you use them already, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, they will change your LIFE! :O)

Quick notes on layer masks...white layer masks SHOW the effect of that layer and you paint with black as your foreground color to paint something OUT. Black layer masks HIDE the effect of that layer and you paint with white as your foreground color to bring it back IN! And the great thing about a layer mask is that when you mask in & out, you aren't touching/damaging the pixels of your photo. And you can always go back and mask in or out later in editing. They give you complete control! And if you over paint somewhere you didn't want to, just switch your foreground color to the opposite (if you are painting with white, switch it to black and vice versa) and you can redo where you went over. Layer masks are LIKE erasing without actually erasing. All of the info is still there...just hidden if you will.

I have a great tip to share in this post as well. I wish I remembered where I learned it so that I could give proper credit. It's cut my masking time in more than half and taken away ALL my masking frustrations. Have you ever been frustrated when masking something in or out of your photos? Especially a texture. Always wondering if you got it all? Frustrated with the time and precision it takes? Well this should help you greatly.

First I'll show you examples with white layer masks, then black.

Here is a snap of my youngest...Avyree or as we call her "Nugget". I want to add a texture to this shot, but I don't want the texture on HER...just the backgrond.

So the first thing you want to do is open the texture you want. Paste it over your image. Hit ctrl/t and stretch it to fit your canvas. Now lower the opacity of the texture layer to taste. I used 30%. Now you need to add a white layer mask so that the texture is SEEN and you will mask out where you don't want it. So on the bottom right hand side you'll see a little icon that looks like a camera. Click it. Now you have a white layer mask on your texture layer.

This is what it looks like right now...

Now comes the fun part. We are going to mask the texture OFF of her. Select your brush tool, a smaller soft edge round brush. To remove the texture completely, use an opacity of 100%. To keep some texture, lower your opacity and flow rate. Then make sure your foreground color is set to BLACK. Start by outlining your subject with a small brush. You can see it over in the layers panel.

Now HERE is the awesome tip. Hold down the alt button & click on the white layer mask! Now the layer mask is all you see...really nice and big. Now continue to mask out the middle of the outline. You can use a larger brush for the middle and use a smaller brush for the edges.

Once you fill it all in, this is what it will look like. Now you can see if you got it all! Pretty COOL huh?

Then to get your regular screen back, just hold the alt key again and click on the layer mask. Now you can play with the opacity of the texture layer some more and you can spice it up by changing the blend modes too.

Now lets say that you have a shot that you only want the texture on a SMALL portion of the image. It would take forever to mask it all out. We want the least masking possible right? Ha!

So...say we are working with a texture again. I have this Macro flower shot I took. I want to add a subtle texture to the left side but not ON the flower. I know I don't want to use a white layer mask because it would take longer to mask the flower out since it's the biggest part of the picture. So....I'm going to add a BLACK layer mask to this one. That way, the texture is HIDDEN and will only show where I paint/mask!

So again, get your texture on your image, stretch it, lower the opacity, change the blend mode...whatever floats your boat.

Now go back down to the same little camera. But this time, hold your alt key down then hit the layer mask icon. And VIOLA...you now have a black layer mask on your texture layer and you will notice that you can no longer SEE the texture. Don't worry, it's still there...hiding!

This is what it will look like...

Now you are going to do the outline again. Select your brusth tool, size, opacity/flow. Now make sure your foregrund color is set to WHITE. Always the opposite color of the layer mask. And this time, as you paint your outline where you want the texture to show, you will see it only where you paint...

Once you have your outline of where you want the texture, hold your alt key down again and click on the black layer mask. Now your screen is black, with the white outline showing. Now paint the center so that the whole outlined area is filled with white. Now your texture is showing where the white is and is hidden where the black is.

Then to get your screen back, hold the alt key down again and click on the black layer mask. Now you have your texture in a small area where you want it. Now you can play with the opacity of the texture layer some more or play with blend modes.

And for fun...here are the before/after shots...

And you can use layer masks for much more than just textures. All adjustment layers come standard with a white layer mask. So when you use any adjustment layer, the effect of that adjustment layer is SHOWN with the white layer mask, and you would mask with black where you want to HIDE the effect. But lets say you do an adjustment layer and only want a small portion of your image effected by it. With the white layer mask, you would have to mask out everything but the tiny section you want it on. That would take FOREVER and probably drive you MAD. So...all you have to do is click on the layer mask, hold down the ctrl key and hit i. That will INVERT your white layer mask to a black layer mask. Now the effect of that adjustment layer is HIDDEN and you can paint with white where you want it to show! One thing I should've said earlier...when you are going to paint on a layer mask, make sure you are ON the layer mask. All you have to do is click on the layer mask in the layers panel and your are ready to mask!

Layer masks can be a bit intimidating, confusing and take a little time to get used to. But I PROMISE it's worth the time to figure them out. Once you have your CLICK moment (pun inteded) you will wonder how you ever edited without them. And you will NEVER use your eraser tool again! :O)

Please don't hesitate to ask any questions. Just practice over and over til it CLICKS. Happy masking.

Okay...off to Vegas. Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My FAV actions of ALL time review...

Okay, things are settling down a bit and I have some what of a brain today! So I wanted to do an action review!

I have admitted to a big problem/obsession...whatever you want to call it, that I have. It's an addiction to ACTIONS! I really think I need a SERIOUS intervention. And one of the reasons it's so bad, is I RARELY use them! Pretty sad...I know! But I'm changing that. I have an actions panel stocked with good expensive pay actions. So I have vowed to myself to start using them more. I still ALWAYS do my standard edits (that I will post about in the future) then I decide if I want to spice it up a bit. And if so, I hit f9 to open my beautiful actions panel!

I do have three sets from the same maker that I use A LOT for my creative edits. They are SO my style and I am DEEPLY in love with them. Okay...ready...

Lily Blue LB and I are tight! Ha! Not! She has NO idea who I am or about my silly little blog! But I'm ready to move in with her...like right now! I want to BE her! If she finds this blog (yeah right) and reads this, she may just get a restraining order! But that's okay, as long as I can still buy her actions, I'm all good!

I will say it is because of HER and her actions that I am now branching out and buying/using other actions. I've started to find my style in photography/editing. I'm finding that I very much love the wash feel to pics! It gives my heart a warm fuzzy happy feeling. Like my slippers in the winter! Or my AC in the hot smoggy Cali summers!

I have her Color One Action set, her Waterplay Action set and her Color One ACR Presets. I have certain favorites in these actions. From her Color One action set, I am OBSESSED with Honey! UGH...I cannot get enough of this action. It's a simple 3 layer action...and it's YUMMY! It looks GREAT on outdoor shots...people or flowers etc. Then from her Waterplay Action set I LOVE Sweet Water. I use this one A lot. I also LOVE Rose Water and use it a LOT too! Now...mix Sweet Water & Rose Water together...and my heart just flutters! I have yet to fall in love with the Color One Presets tho. It's not that they are not good...because they ARE. It's a personal thing. I have the NEED to edit in layers...which is why LR doesn't float my boat. In ACR, I just do the basic corrections of WB, Exposure & Recovery if needed, Blacks and a tad of Clarity and once in a great big while when I'm feeling bright and sunny, I'll slap a touch of Vibrancy...but VERY little! So the creative stuff in ACR isn't my cup of tea. But don't let me not feelin the love for them stop you. Because they are just as AMAZING as her actions. And she also has LR Presets that are FANTASTIC! And all of her actions are completely adjustable, so you can really tone them down if you wish, or you can do a few combo actions. I really enjoying mixing the Color One Action set & the Waterplay actions for various different looks!

PLEASE stop by her site and check her out. If you fall in love with her examples, hit that buy button and I promise you...you will NOT regret it and you too may become an OBSESSED LB fan too!

So without further ado...here are some examples. My originals aren't SOOC, they are my basic edits. And all of the action examples have been adjusted to my taste and are not run as is. And because I'm also obsessed with my Macro lens, all the examples are flowers. But these work AMAZING on people too!

These 3 examples are from the Color One Action set...

And these 4 examples are from the Waterplay Action set...

And these 3 examples are her Combo Actions from the Waterplay Action set...

Can you tell I'm also obsessed with the back of flowers?! :O)
The Combo Actions in the Waterplay Action set can be pretty intense and strong and require a good amount of adjustments to get them to taste. But they are more complex actions and you have a LOT of control with them. The other Waterplay Actions are less intense and strong and don't require as much adjusting. The Color One Action set are simple 3 layer actions that require very little adjusting!
So now you know my secret...that I am in LOVE in LB and her actions and I think if you try them...so will you!
Now go check her out!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

B&W Action set...

Sorry it took me a while to get this up. Life seems to be moving FAST these days!

And I need to apologize for something in advance. I recorded these actions a few months ago and I recorded them to duplicate your photo...thinking at the time this was a good idea! UGH. This will probably annoy you to death! Ha! And I also put an intro to EVERY action and an ending note or two as well! Sigh. I hope this doesn't stop you from using them IF you like them. I saw somewhere (MAYBE MCP) with instructions on how to stop the ANNOYING stops and notes in actions. So you MIGHT want to look into it if you plan to use these a lot because you may want to KILL me after a few runs! Lol! I think I also did this with the Eye Pop tut...but learned my lesson and didn't do it with the Beach Wash set! Atleast I learn right?! :O)

So as with any action set, you HAVE to get into the nitty gritty of the action and adjust it to your taste. Rarely does an action look good run as is and some actions look better on some photos vs others. None of these actions apply any sharpenening as I think sharpening is a personal perference. So after you run the actions, you'll want to apply your own sharpening!

I also included a seperate "Haze" action so that you can add haze to any of the actions if you'd like. It's just a 1 layer action. I also included a 1 layer dodge and burn that ROCKS! It's the ONLY way I dodge and burn. And a 1 layer lighten and a 1 layer darken action.

Here are some quick examples...

And HERE are the actions! I'd love to hear what you think and see any links to edits you do with them! I hope you enjoy!

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About my PS Blog

Hi, my name is Crystal and I am addicted to Photoshop. I have PSCS4 and it's my other half. I love photography, but sometimes I think it's a means to edit!

So I thought it would be fun to have a place to post the free action sets I record, tips and tricks that I learn in PS and tuts for various different types of photo editing.

I hope you enjoy and find my PS blog helpful and if you have any questions, leave me a comment with your questions and your email address and I will get back to you!

Happy editing!

About Me

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I am a stay at home to 2 great girls. My older daughter Haylee just started middle school and my younger daughter Avyree is in 1st grade! I have been married 11 years to my hubs Eric. I got my first DSLR June 31, 2008 and have been hooked ever since! My style is primarily Lifestyle! I like to take a natural and real life approach to my images! I want them to remind me of WHO my girls were when they were little, not just what they looked like. I love to edit and my editing style is always evolving and changing! I like variety and photography is a means to edit! I shoot Canon (full frame) and almost only primes. I pull out my wide angle zoom from time to time! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you like our story...
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