Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gradient Fill Tutorial

Time to begin thinking about what piece of photo art you would like to showcase for our February link-up - Photo Art Friday.  The first Friday in February is the 7th.

You can always showcase ANY piece of photo ART you choose.  If you like to have a theme or challenge, the one for February is GEOMETRIC/GRAPHIC/ANGULAR.  Here are some examples if you are stymied by this theme:

At left, a hallway featuring ceiling to floor
beams.  A texture and a treatment with
a few RadLab stylets completes this piece.

At right a boutique in an up-scale shopping center featuring an amazing selection of fine perfumes and colognes.  A levels adjustment, sharpening, and Poster Edges were the only manipulations on this photo.

Below the simple graphic effects of a fence enhanced with a color saturation and Poster Edges.



A few weeks back I said I would post a tutorial on how to give your photographs a dreamy, romantic look using the Gradient Fill option in the Adjustments Panel in Photoshop.  I also occasionally use the Gradient Fill to obscure any parts of a photograph that are too busy or unattractive before I add a texture.

Adding Gradient Fill color to a photograph that has a stark black or a stark white background can also help it be a more 'welcoming' companion to a texture.  So here is an example of using two Gradient Fills before the application of a texture:

This is the photograph and you can see that I have made the usual Levels, Sharpening and Saturation adjustments.  The gorgeous begonia dominates the visual field, but the background reveals a pot and some metal rods.  I want to make the background less conspicuous.  (Please click on the images so that you can read the instructions and the Layers Panel.)

  1. BEFORE opening the Gradient Fill option you MUST select your foreground color which will be the color of the gradient fill.  
  2. With the color picker select a pale color from within the photograph.  I usually then choose an even paler color in that tone.  Of course, you can always choose white.  For this image I selected a pale yellow.
  3. Click on the small circle that opens the Adjustment Panel.
  4. From the Adjustment Panel options select "Gradient ..." (always the second on the list in my versions of PSE and PS).
  5. I leave all the gradient fill options as they are when the dialogue box opens, except for Angle.
  6. With your mouse guide the lever in the Angle circle so that your Gradient is positioned on your photo the way you want it.
  7. Click OK.

Above you can see how I moved the Angle of the Gradient Fill so that it creates a cloud of color over the hanging pot in the upper right corner.

The Gradient Fill layer always comes with its own Layer Mask.  Set your foreground color to black and choose a soft, round brush.  I like to lower the opacity of the brush to about 40%, before starting to remove any gradient color on the flower.  If it does not remove enough, I can go over the area again.  You will want to adjust the size of your brush to fit the areas you are working on.  If you make a mistake and remove some of the gradient fill color where you do not want to remove it, simply change your foreground color to white and brush over the spot. 

Since I want to obscure the busy background on the left of the photograph, I add another Gradient Fill Layer (as before) adjusting the Angle to bring the color where I want it.  As you can see in the Layers Panel, I have not yet used the Layer Mask on the second Gradient Fill to remove color I don't want on the flower.

Now, if you look in the Layers Panel you can see I have used the second Layer Mask.  Notice that the area masked out is paler.  That is because I lowered the opacity of my brush to 30%.

 I open and 'place' the texture on the Gradient Filled photograph and adjust it to fit by pulling on the bounding boxes while holding my Shift key.  The texture is pdpa Yellow Shards from my new Moonglow Medley Texture Set.

You can see that even a beautiful photograph and a beautiful texture do not merge beautifully without a little help.  This is where the Blend Modes come into play.  I select Luminosity Blend Mode and adjust it down to 75% to get the effect below.

Used a Layer Mask to remove texture from the flower.

I want to use the Poster Edge Filter on this piece, but must first right click on the top layer and select Merge Layers.  That gives me only one background layer.  I duplicate that layer in order to be able to apply the Filter, Poster Edges.  (Don't ask me why, but I can't seem to get the Filters to work over several other layers and so must Merge and Duplicate layers first.)

I apply Poster Edges sliding the three little adjustment levers to 1/1/2 respectively.  Blending the Filter, Poster Edges in Luminosity and lowering the opacity to 75% softens the effect.  The Poster Edges give the piece a bit of an artsy feel.  I, too, still love the beauty of the flower as is - but we are using digital editing to produce a piece of photo art and I like my photo art to lean a bit toward the abstract.  You have to find your preferences and your favorite ways to produce them with digital editing.

And here you have a sweet little piece of photo art that shows nothing of its original busy background and sits beautifully in the pdpa Yellow Shards texture.  I cropped off a chunk of the image on the left, so that the focal point is not sitting smack dab in the middle. As I look at it now, it could perhaps do with a Levels Adjustment to bring in a bit more light - but there it is for now!

I hope these instructions are helpful.  Hope I have not left out too many steps that I do all the time and therefore don't think to mention. Feel free to ask questions and please let me know how it goes if you use it.

I am preparing another tutorial with lots of tips for using textures to create photo art. Stay tuned!

Looking forward to connecting with you all at our next Photo Art Friday, February 7th! Be well!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Graphic Photo Art and A Free Texture!

Hi Friends,

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.  It's bitterly cold here in Quebec, Canada but we are not in the midst of a major snowstorm as are most areas in the northeast tonight.

Requests have been made for earlier reminders about our once a month link up Photo Art Friday.  The next edition of PAF is scheduled for Friday, February 7th - but the doors always open on the Thursday for early birds.

The optional theme for the February edition is Geometric/Graphic/Angular.

Any art that features some graphic lines will do!  For example here's a piece of 'geometric or graphic photo art:

Photo, texture and Photoshop Filter, Poster Edges created this piece of photo art.  The graphic lines in the texture (once treated in Photoshop) could be taken as other high-rise buildings.  Photo and texture are below:

The photo, with reflections and dirt on the roof window of the car was taken while stuck in traffic on Sherbrooke St. in Montreal, last fall.

The texture applied was made from a photo (frankly I cannot recall which photo) using
Filter>Distort>Wave in Photoshop.  The texture is from my private collection and not yet available to the public.

Here's a sweet, free texture with graphic lines that could make it something you can use as a background or enhancement for the February theme for PAF.  Enjoy!

To download your free copy of pdpa Graphique texture, simply click HERE.

I'm still spending all available time in my studio painting.  In an effort to educate myself about art styles and techniques I have acquired many books on art and watched hundreds of YouTube videos of gallery shows, art history documentaries and live artist demos/tutorials.

I then go to my studio and use what I have learned in my own way/style.  The whole experience has been absorbing, exhilarating, frustrating, at times discouraging, but overall exciting and rewarding.

My 'live-in art consultant' and Fine Art graduate from the renowned Ecole de Beaux Arts says I am making good progress.

He does not, however, pull punches with his specific critiques of the paintings!  I have heard a variety of reactions from: "hmmmm", "interesting", "not finished - keep at it", "not your best" and even a couple of "are you kidding me??"s! The rare "wow", "impressive", "one of your best" are really encouraging.

Most encouraging, however, was when I found him with hammer and nails in hand saying "Let's decide where we can hang some of these paintings."

I have yet to acquire the proper lighting with which to take good photos of the paintings.  When I feel I have finally captured the paintings as they truly are I will share some here.

Until we next meet, be well ... and if you have time leave a comment and let me know how you are and what you are up to!

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Mini-Set Textures Have Arrived!

There are  now some new texture sets for you in both of my Texture Shoppes! The majority of the new sets are in the Mini-Sets Texture Shoppe as I have continued with the affordable format of only four textures per set. (Most of the older sets have been removed from the shoppe.)

None of these new sets are groupings of a series of similar textures. Rather, each set is a little potpourri of different textures, a medley or assortment of textures. I know I don't always want a bunch of similar textures from a themed collection. This way, each set gives you perhaps a scripted texture, a bokeh texture, a transparent overlay, a scratch texture, a light-lit texture, etc. etc.

Here are several of the new sets grouped into a little collage:

For a close up look please visit the shoppes!  Just click on the tabs under the header. 

(Click on any of the images in this post for a larger view.)

Below you will find some of the new textures from these sets applied to my photographs.  But first the basic editing recipe I used for all of the images.  

Each application of the textures followed these same basic steps:
  • Basic edits to photograph such as Sharpening, Levels Adjustment (to add or subtract light), Saturation Adjustment (when required). 
  • (Gradient Fill.  Sometimes I add 2 Gradient Fill layers to a photo before I add the texture, especially if I want a romantic, dreamy feel.  I am preparing a tutorial to demonstrate how I do this, so stay tuned.  Coming soon.)
  • Apply texture to photograph.
  • Blend texture and photograph.  I usually use either Multiply, Darker Color, Screen, Overlay or Hard Light when applying textures.
  • Adjust down the Opacity of the Blend.  This is a subjective edit that depends on taste, the effect you are trying to achieve and the photograph itself.
  • Layer Mask.  Use a Layer Mask to remove some texture from areas of the photo where you don't want it.  I always reduce the opacity of my brush before starting to remove texture - sometimes as low as 20%.  This gives you more control over the amount of texture you remove.
  • Evaluate the result and make any further edits that could enhance the image such as: Sharpening again (low opacity), Levels Adjustment (to bring in or reduce light).  Sometimes I add the Filter "Poster Edges" and I like to lower the opacity to less than 33%.  This adds a subtle, professional finishing touch.

This is an old photograph taken from a moving car.  You can see the dirty car window in the original photo if you look carefully! With the addition of a texture, the sky is given a dramatic flair and a drab photograph becomes a sweet piece of art! The texture is pdpa Blue Rhapsody from the Crystalline Quartet Texture Set. It is G.R.E.A.T. for skies!

This photograph received a levels adjustment and 2 gradient fill layers to lighten and soften the background before the application of the texture pdpa Incomparable from the pdpa Artist's Compliment Texture Set. This texture is a version of one of my all time favorites.  It just never fails to make a piece of photo art look wonderful!

A levels adjustment and 2 gradient fill layers before the addition of pdpa Just Exceptional texture from the pdpa Lyric Quartet Texture Set.  This is a 2005 photograph of my eldest granddaughter. Bringing dress-up clothes makes a little photo-shoot much more fun for kids. :)

pdpa Sunset Skies texture from the pdpa Crystalline Quartet Texture Set was applied after photo was edited (2 gradient fill layers to make background soft and faded). Texture blended in Darker Color at 60% opacity. Layer Mask removed texture from flower and a very light application of Poster Edges applied.

I'm hoping these above examples of the new textures applied to photos will tempt you to go to the Mini-Sets Texture Shoppe and see if there is a new set there that you just have to have in your personal texture library.


The next Photo Art Friday will happen on February 7th (the first Friday of every month). The optional theme for Feb. is:


but as always you can share any piece of photo art that you are excited about.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Photo Art Friday, January 3rd -5th, 2014

Well ... we have traveled a long and lovely photo-art path together ... right into 2014.  How amazing!!!  And how delightful to have had your company on this learning journey!

Can you imagine the photo art we will create and view in the year to come?  I am excited and inspired just by the thought of it!!

Before we get started with showcasing our art, allow me to offer you a free texture.  I tried to set it up for you to download in my previous post but the download seemed to lead to a private file (?!), so I removed it.  Let's try again. This sweet texture that can give a little linen-look, old world charm to your photographs:

To download a free copy of pdpa Old Tablecloth texture, simply smile and click HERE.

An example of one effect you can achieve with this texture.
(Click on the image for a larger view.)

It's time for Photo Art Friday.  Are you ready?

You can post
* any piece of photo art here each month.
You can use the creative prompts/themes/challenges that I offer each month, too.
We have more than one prompt to kick off the new year.  They are:

*  A piece of photo art that contains a word you have chosen to guide you through 2014.

*  A piece of photo art from 2013 that is one of your favorites (or a collage of favs).

***NOTE:  Dear Kim from Picking Poppies kindly reminded me that I omitted to share the theme for February's edition of Photo Art Friday.  How about:


(I'll release a texture to help you with that theme a week or so before the first Friday in February, the 7th to be exact.)

I find myself a little resistant to choosing just one word to guide me through the year ... not quite sure why.  Maybe it's because my real motto from last year is leaking into this year: "I'd rather be painting!"

Last year I did formally choose the word "presence". While being "present" to my inner process, as I negotiated my way through 2013, it was evident that I spend a lot of time doing exactly what I am doing now - resisting what life, duty, inner and outer expectations, traditions, etc. call on me to do.

I discovered that I consistently resist the simplest of things - the mundane, little duties of life such as grocery shopping, making phone calls, using new gadgets and new purchases (e.g. Lightroom, CS6), spring cleaning, writing new posts for my blog, etc. etc.

I've also noticed how much energy goes into that seemingly automatic resistance and how valuable time is spent groping for evidence to justify and support said resistance:

E.g.:  "People are too busy on the weekend to read my post - I'll do one during the week."  

"I'll work out of my Lightroom files next week, it's so much easier to just grab photos out of Picasa."  

"I love the challenge of making a good meal from whatever rations can be found in the cupboard."

 "I don't want to phone him now and interrupt him at work."

With the energy spent resisting and procrastinating, I could have accomplished many of the tasks twice over - but resisting seems to be an insidious, long-standing habit.

Sooooo - while gathering justifications about why I should surely resist settling on just one word in 2014, it occurred to me that I might benefit from thinking about the word - (drum roll please) - Ta Daa: 
"non-resistance"  How clever obvious!  ;)

I am not talking about social/political non-resistance but rather my personal, inner habit of resistance to what is.  I just want to stop over-thinking what I am called to do by the way life unfolds, and simply do it.  Yes, I'm thinking of that old Nike phrase too!

Without further ado (resistance!) here is my photo-art featuring a word I need to be reminded of during 2014:

I've used a piece of photo-art that includes an abstracted image of myself so that I cannot resist the evidence of who should be contemplating non-resistance!

The above image is a composite of a photo of myself with some of my textures, a photograph of one of my painted images of a face, and a photograph of a painting found in a gallery window of a rather intriguing face that I edited in PSE. (So those shadowy areas really aren't entirely my eyebrows, mouth or nostrils!)  Some of the elements used in the above composite can be seen in the collage below.

These may not be my favorite pieces of photo art from 2013, and weird tho' they may be, I had so much fun placing image on top of image, adding textures and seeing what warped portrait emerged!

The last image (just above) only has one of my abstract paintings applied to it.  All features visible are mine! :)