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)

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Michelle Kane HeARTy action examples...

I think this is the first time I've shown before/after shots of the same set more than once!!! To say it as simple as possible....these actions are THE.BEST I've ever purchased! And coming from me that's a big deal. I usually love my actions pretty evenly. I have my favorites of course. But not one set I could say is better than the rest. They all hold a certain place in my heart and get used pretty equally. But very quickly this set has raced to number ONE and I'm pretty certain will stay there! Next to Michelle Kane's HeARTy actions, my second favorite are Red Leaf Actions. Man are they amazing! Their Workflow set blows my mind! So now, for my workflow editing, these two are on the top of my actions panel and TRULY top notch high quality actions! I still use my own actions and my other creative actions regularly too, but these sets are worth their price tags!

So I wanted to share a few more examples now that I've had a bit more time to play with them. I also wanted to include my layers panel so that you could see which actions I used, opacity and the masking I did. Again, you NEED to mask with this set. BUT....it's not nearly as scary or hard as it may seem...promise! And the more you play with these sets, the faster you get and the more you see that larger, low opacity soft brush masking is all it takes and is actually pretty quick! See THIS post by Michelle that is very helpful with the masking of her actions!

Again I must say...she does not know me. I did not test these actions and am under NO obligation to sell them, push them or share examples. I'm doing it solely because THAT is how much I LOVE these two sets! And I simply could NOT pick between the two. To me, it's one big set and I couldn't live without either!

Okay onto the examples! All of the before edits have minor ACR adjustments such as WB & some brightness. Some I ran Red Leaf's workflow actions on to clean them up as a better starting off point.

This shot is from my friends wedding last year. A simple candid shot while the girls were getting ready. I loved it from the get go and my first initial edit was a light airy pastel type wash edit. I wanted to try again and go for a little more clean and direct this time. I also wanted to show that this set can be used on shots that don't have a lot of environment and deep rich colors...

And here is my layers panel for the above shot...

This shot I took while we were out playing in our Jeep in the mud last weekend! That's my husband checking out the sloppy ground and trying to figure out the best way to go back down since there wasn't enough traction to continue going up! Lol! The girls and I played in the snow below while he got the Jeep down safe and sound! The view was beautiful and there was so much hidden color to discover...

and my layers panel for the above shot...

Same day as the above shot! I had my Medium Jill E bag sitting on the ground and it was such a pretty shot that I had to take a picture. I love the deep rich colors in this edit and love that it's so different than my normal style. This is one of my favorite edits with her actions to date...

and my layers panel for the above shot...

Again same day! Nugget playing in the snow. Again I knew that I wanted to bring out the rich tones and colors that were there and I wanted the background darker to put all focus on her...

and my layers panel on the above shot...

Again same day! Can you tell I liked a lot of shots from this day! The environment of these shots were perfect for these actions! This is Haylee, my older daughter having fun in the snow! This is one of my favorite shots & edits of Haylee to date...

and my layers panel on the above shot...

Same day...AGAIN! Lol! It's rare that I take a lot of shots with a lot of pretty environment with colors and richness. So I went with it! Lol...

and my layers panel from the shot above...

And here is a shot from today for my 365. It's not a great shot and the before shot is really drab and flat! I knew I wanted to go rich, darker and warm! For the final shot I did end up adding two Florabella textures but the after here is without...

and my layers panel for the above shot...

I actually had to STOP doing so many before and after shots because I love every edit I do with these actions! Lol!

I do believe that it helps a great deal to have an idea of how you want to edit a shot and a visual of the end result. It helps you decide which actions to run and how to use them together! And the only way to get to know your actions is to play play play!

Some have asked me what my favorite actions are in these sets! I have a LOT but figured I'd post the ones I love the most and use the most. And I know there will be more, but these are the main ones I've been playing with so far! And just so you also know, these sets are BIG! Everything you could ever want are packed in both of these sets, from rich deep edits to soft light hazy edits! It's all there and worth every penny that they cost!!!

From the HeART & Soul set...

* Mellow out ~ This is great to take down some color of an area in a clean and natural way. I don't use it a lot, but when I do it works great! I used it in the top example in this post on the background where the Tungsten light was overwhelming from the lamp.

* Color Jolt ~ love this for a deep rich color pop. I often just invert the mask to white and mask it where I don't want it! This method works great on outside shots where you want the color on most things and masked off the skin. On indoor shots I leave it black and paint just where I want it! Sometimes if the color is just a tad too dark I'll go into the adjustment layer in the Master color and up the lightness a tad!

* Light/Shade ~ is for a quick and easy dodge/burn on the same layer. It's easy and very clean. This is how I used to dodge/burn and I'm SO glad it's in this set because I love the result. You use a black brush at low opacity to burn and a white brush at low opacity to dodge! I use it all the time!

* Hidden Meadow ~ is great to get deep rich greens on trees/leaves etc! It does go a bit dark, but the way I edit, I bring back in the detail. Key is a low brush opacity!

* White Neutralizer ~ is great to get your whites white! Low brush opacity again!

* Flawless Face ~ simply ROCKS! It uses a Surface Blur {among other things} and does take a bit of time to run but is VERY natural looking. Low brush opacity is a MUST to keep skin looking natural and soft vs plastic and air brushed! It also works WONDERFULLY for skies and backgrounds to help with noise and banding! Want a soft dreamy sky or background, this is your action!

* Sun Kissed Skin ~ is probably my favorite action in both sets! It's amazing and gives just the right amount of lightness & warmth to skin/faces! I use it on almost every shot! Low brush opacity again as are with most of these actions!

* Rosy Cheeks & Lips ~ is such a great little action to give a bit of pinkness to the lips and cheeks! Great to zap a little life back into the face. You really have to use a very low brush opacity on this to keep it natural looking. I use a brush opacity of 5% and if I'm doing the cheeks, usually one click of a soft round brush at 5% brush opacity does the trick!

*All the Anti skin actions are wonderful. The Anti Lobster Skin & Anti Pasty Skin are the only ones I've used sor far! But really and truly THE BEST skin actions I've ever used. So natural and effective! They are my go to actions to clean up issues with the skin colors!

* Blue Eyed Beauty & Gorgeous Green Eyes ~ I use lightly as with the Rose Cheeks & Lips actions. My girls have both colors, so I usually use both at 5% opacity and only one click on each iris!

*Eye-citment ~ is great but be careful not to go too far or the eyes will look overdone! I did this in the last two shots of my first example {my first review} on my little Nugget. I've gotten better at dialing it down for a more natural look. Gives great contrast to the eyes and what I love the most about it is it preserves the detail and darks of the eyes. So it doesn't just lighten and wash away all detail!

* Glisten ~ is AWESOME! It will slightly define/sharpen and brighten! Low brush opacity is a must! I usually do about 10% brush opacity and make the soft round brush large enough to fit over the eye brow and down below the under eye and do one or two clicks! I just shoot my girls and often shoot at awful times of day when we are out playing. I don't plan my life around photography, I plan my photography around my life. So often I get shadows under the eyes from mid day shooting. Using this action the way I do helps with the entire shadows that my girls have in my shots! Again tho, do not over use!

* Pearly Whites ~ does what it says. So natural and clean. If used right with a low brush opacity, looks completely natural and nobody will ever know it was used. It doesn't strip colors like some do so it won't make the teeth gray and drab or neon. Love that it's so quick and easy too! I used this on the bridal shot in my first example {my first review} of the close up of the bride with the groom behind her!

* Bring on the Bokeh ~ is another I use on most pictures. It's the most natural fake bokeh action or method I've ever used or tried myself! The action runs fast and when used on a shallow DOF shot, the results are smooth, gorgeous and natural. It is not meant to take a deep DOF shot and add fake bokeh. It's to enhance and smooth the bokeh that's already there! Great for banding/noise issues as well. I usually use at about 20-30% brush opacity. Most times I control my brush opacity and leave the layer at the opacity in which it ran. Sometimes I get a bit carried away and brush too strong and then I will lower the layer opacity. But most times it's best to control your strength with your brush opacity!

* Opulent Light ~ is wonderful for a little glowy light! It's dreamy and best on backgrounds. If your background goes a bit too dark or you want a more dreamy glow feel run this and lightly brush it on the backgrounds. It will make them come to life. And when I say dreamy and glow, it's not exactly what you might be thinking! It's not strong nor fake looking! You have to try it to really understand. I usually mask it on at about 20-30% brush opacity!

* Velvet Vignette ~ is so pretty and rich and dreamy. You paint with a white brush at low brush opacity {10-20%} along the edges for a customized creamy rich vignette!

* Sparkle ~ is a wonderful sharpening action that you apply by brushing with a white brush where you want it! Great for selective sharpening of the eyes and often I'll use it at low brush opacity with one or two clicks over the entire face. I don't like to sharpen hair, so this is a nice clean sharpen that will not add contrast like a high pass will and won't muddy up your shadows but a give a nice clean sharpen. That's why I like it on the face and I'll often do it on the clothes too if they are in focus in the shot to get a bit more detail out of them!

That's it for my favorites of the HeART & Soul set. There are MANY more actions in this set and I'm sure the more I play with the other actions, the more I'll add to my favorites list.

Now onto the Creative HeART set...

* Bland to Brilliant & Dull to Dazzling ~ are both great actions and I can't way which I use more. It just depends on the photo, the look I want and if I run it right away or later in the editing process and what I've already done to the image. These are great for a starting off point or as a topper for the final touch. Both of these will add contrast, mild defog & bump the mid-tones. Bland to Brilliant is more subtle and basic, so is probably better as a topper. Dull to Dazzling is a bit stronger with more adjustable layers and probably best run as a workflow type action in the beginning of your editing process. That is not set in stone though because I've run it toward the end and lowered the folder opacity! So try them both and play around with when you use them!

* Posh ~ I use a LOT! This action is SO different from my normal style and probably why I love it so! This action will give you a very rich deep dreamy look to your photos. MUST be masked off the skin, at least a little depending on what edits you've already done! This is the action that gave my snow shots above that dreamy rich soft look to the backgrounds. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this action! But masking is a must. Not a run and go action.

* Euphoria ~ is dreamy, creamy, light and wonderful. This is a creative action for sure and I love it as a topper at lower folder opacity! It will give you a peachy warm type of feel that is light and airy!

* B&W's that are my favorite are Timeless. Great clean standard b&w and always gives great results. Ice is a rare one for me to like. I don't normally like Blue b&w's. But this action on the right photo totally makes me happy. Silverscreen is also one I love on the right image. It's a very moody hazy type of b&w. Reminds me a bit of Red Leaf's Old Hollywood b&w!

* Now to the tones!!! So many to choose from, so many I LOVE and so many I haven't played with enough yet! These are the icing on the cake, the cherry on the top of the sundae! All are one layer actions that give you a different tonal range and feel. Some are light and airy and some are darker/deeper. You can run more than one at different layer opacity and masking! So far my favorite and most used are...

*Autumn Sunrise ~ the tones make my heART smile! Get it...ha! :} Don't judge...I've been laid up all week & stuck indoors after my little dirt bike crash and I haven't had enough coffee yet...or too much! Whatever... :}

* Bloom ~ oh how I LOVE this one. Probably the one I use the most in the Tones section. I get giddy just thinking about it!

* Brown Sugar ~ is DELICIOUS! I usually have to lower the opacity of the layer and mask off of skin/clothes but it's wonderful for the backgrounds!

* Cosmic Ray ~ I don't use too often but on the right shot/edit, it's awesome. I think I prefer it for detail/still/macro type shots vs people. But that could change!

* Kiwi & Lilac Haze ~ are nice and have their place in my heart! Not used as much as some, but on the right shot/edit I really like them!

And so far those are my favorite and most used of the Creative HeART set! Again I know the more I play, the more I'll add to my favorites list!

So as you can see, even if I never use any other actions in both sets {which I know I will} I've already gotten my money and then some. I also bought the bundle while it was on sale, so that makes me smile a bit more! Lol! I will admit that I was hesitant when I saw the price! I did stop and consider if this would be another expensive waste of my money and that they would sit like so many other pricey actions I've purchased. But I'll also say I've gotten a lot smarter in the last two and a half years. Oh yeah, my three year photography anniversary is coming up, June 31 this year! YAY! So I really thought about this set, read her blog and all the examples. I read what testers were saying...but more LOOKING at what they were doing. I don't think a tester is going to say a bad word about a set they are testing. That is saved as feedback for the maker. So I paid attention to their edits also keeping in mind that their examples show how THEY use them along with THEIR shooting style! In the end I felt confident that I would truly love these sets and most important...USE them! And I was right! For me, I was in a place where I really wanted to start upping my editing. Taking my images to where I saw them in my head. To take them from okay creative edit of a MWAC to looking more professional. And for me, I think for your edits to look more professional, masking is THE.KEY!!!! You truly need to work on different sections of the photo for specific targeted editing and this set allows you to do that! If you are the type of editor that wants to run, barely tweak and go...this set is NOT for you! But if you really want to push yourself, get more out of your edits and personalize them directly to you and your style, and are willing to mask to achieve that professional look, then *I* think these sets are a MUST.HAVE! Whether you edit clean, deep & rich or light & airy. These two sets have it all!

So that's my review, examples and thoughts on these two sets! I hope it was helpful, IF you actually got through the whole thing. I know many will just look at the examples and skip my novel, which is perfectly fine. But if you really want to know how I use them and a little detailed information on the sets before you fork over the money for them, then read away!

Okay....my fingers are cramping and I NEED MORE COFFEE! Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend! Best wishes.... momaziggy! :)


Brad February 25, 2011 at 10:11 PM  

Thanks for posting this detailed PP instructions with the MK action set. I purchased them and need to play with them more. There is a lot to them, but I admire her images and style so much, that I need to take the time to learn how to use these actions better. Please post more examples - these are so helpful!

momaziggy February 28, 2011 at 9:15 AM  

I'm so glad this was helpful! I would for sure go to her blog and read all her posts about the sets, see which recipes she's doing to give you ideas on where to start
and read the post about masking etc. It would be a shame to let this expensive and BEAUTIFUL set go to waste! What I did was litreally just started running each one to see what it would do to the photo and play play play. Then once I started to get what each one did, I started actually edititing with them! :)

Anna March 2, 2011 at 12:11 AM  

Awesome review of these actions. Thank you so much for taking the time to go thru what each action does. I want to buy them now too! How do you like MCP actions by the way? or Florabella? They are also quite popular.

momaziggy March 2, 2011 at 1:09 PM  

Thanks Anna! It's my pleasure! I have TONS of MCP actions and they are great! The only ones I use now tho are her Bag of Tricks which I LOVE for the clean up and fixing of problem areas of the photo and all of her Blog it Board actions which I'd die without! I am considering getting her new Fusion set because they are VERY much MY style. But the price is a bit more than I thought so it will be a bit more. I have a lot of Florabella actions too! Actually I have them all but the newest Luxe II set! They are TRULY AMAZING and so fun & creative. I am finding now tho, that as my style is becoming more defined, I do use them less. It's nothing to say bad about the actions because they are truly gorgoues. But I'm now using all of my Red Leaf & MK actions more. I love Lilyblue's Wallflower sets too! So it's so hard to say which to get. It really depends on your style and which ones will suit you, your shooting and your editing style! Hope that helps a little! Lol!

Anna March 8, 2011 at 1:31 AM  

Thanks so much for such an in-depth answer. You are such a Photoshop fan, like me. I actually went into photogrpahy (still learning, though) because of my love of Photoshop...hehehe...

I'm glad that you enjoy the Florabella and MCP actions. I only own a few of them but from what I can see, they are good. The MCP ones are what I use in the end, sort of like a last resort after I'm done post-processing an image. Florabella ones are definitely not my style (I'm not really into the vintage look) but I do find they work really well on outdoor portraits, especially among green grass. I live in Canada and it is winter like, 70% here, so her actions don't work well with snow and ice.

Because your review of MK actions was so awesome, I bought them too. Yikes, it was a splurge, since they were expensive, but I LOVE THEM. Absolutely LOVE THEM. They are right up my alley in terms of where I want my photos look like. I still have so much to learn since her actions are not one of those "run them and go" kind of actions. Masking is sooo important. But usually, in the end, I'm so happhy with my images. THANK YOU for your amazing review. You convinved me to buy these actions! :-)

momaziggy March 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM  

Congrats on getting the MK actions. I know the more you play with them the more you'll love them. And since you love PS so much, you will really learn how to use them and get more use out of them because of that! They truly are top quality actions. And I've had the pleasure of emailing back & forth a few times with Michelle and she is the NIECEST person ever! So down to Earth and real! Enjoy the acions! :)

toni March 24, 2011 at 4:57 AM  

You are wicked Crystal to do this to us, a set to trump Red Leaf in my book must be pretty awesome. Darn it, I'm gonna have to go have a look at MK now. All my love to you for always doing these amazing reveiws for us!x

momaziggy March 24, 2011 at 1:31 PM  

Heeeheee...my pleasure Toni! Between Red Leaf {which I still need to do a review on} and MK....I truly feel like I have everything I need in my actions panel. I still have others I use for creative fun for sure, but these are my go to actions to begin my workflow and a lot of the, all I need. But I still can't live with LB & FB of course! Lol! Now add MCP Fusion to the set and I'm in trouble. I'm going to do a review of those too...one of these days! Lol!

Lacey Creations Photography March 2, 2013 at 12:04 AM  

Thank you so much for sharing. Question could you open the group folders so I can see what steps are in there and there opacity's?

momaziggy March 5, 2013 at 7:27 AM  

Hi Lacey. This was done back in Feb 2011 & these are the only screen shots I have. It's hard to do a layers panel screenshot plus a screenshot for every folder. Sorry I can't help more.

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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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