Welcome to EarlK Design!

The EarlK Design blog consists mainly of entries that show how to do things using Adobe Photoshop that I hope you will find helpful and give your creative mind more tools to work with.

I use Adobe Photoshop CS6, and sometimes Adobe Illustrator CS5, Lightroom 5, and Corel Painter X. However, I believe that much of what I show can be done using Photoshop Elements.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What if I did this....or that....?

As I say at the top of my blog, "If you make a mistake, make it big and sign it....and, date it." What I really mean by this is that so much of my art is just a serendipitous accident. I start out doing something in Photoshop and my mind starts to wander off in directions I had not consciously thought about. What if I do this? Or, what if I do that instead, or in addition? I can really get very strayed off the path I was originally thinking about. Let me show you an example of what happened to me today.

I had taken some photos at the Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha, Nebraska, in January 2012, during an exhibit of Wicked Plants, plants could be hazardous to your health. As I was leaving the parking lot to get to the exhibit, I took a photo of some dried grasses. I really didn't know why I took it. When I got home, I almost deleted the image....but. I didn't. This is just a thought to keep in the back of your mind for later.

Step 1.  Today I thought about using some "normal" textures on an image I took that day at the Gardens of an orchid plant. Here is my original image. It is my Background layer.

Step 2.  My first thought was to use the blur method of sharpening the image. So, that is what I did. First I duplicated the Background layer for my second layer. I like to do this in case I make a goof along the way I can easily get back to the original image.  So this image looks just the same so I won't show it here.

Step 3.  Then I duplicated the image again for my third layer. I then inverted the image, Image / Adjustments / Invert, or Command / Control - I.

This is always very pretty to my eyes. And, I am tempted to do to something with it other than sharpen. But, I just sharpened.  I next set this layer's Blend Mode to Vivid Light. And I get something that always startles me at first.

Then I went to Filter / Blur /Surface Blur. This opened the Surface Blur dialog. I set the Radius to 40 pixels and the Threshold to 90 levels. The clicked OK.

And this is what I now have for this layer.

Step 4.  For this next layer, I wanted to make a composite of all the visible layers below it. So, with Layer 3 active, I used the keyboard shortcut, Command / Control - Option / Alt - Shift - E (I can never remember where this is in the Menu). This gave me the composite layer as Layer 4.  And I now have this. Looks the same. And it should since it is a composite of what you see.

Layer 3 is no longer needed and usually can be deleted. However, for some reason I just turned its visibility OFF by clicking on its eyeball. Then I changed the composite layer to Blend Mode Soft Light and reduced its Opacity to 50%. The 100% Opacity was just a little too much for me. 

And now, I have this.

That is how you sharpen an image by blurring an image. Actually, when you sharpen an image in Photoshop, you are really accentuating the edges of things. This gives the appearance of being sharper. If you have an out of focus image, it will still be out of focus. This is not a magic method to create s sharp image from an out of focus image. You still need to take your photos as sharp as possible.

Step 5.  I now started looking for a nice "normal" texture to apply to the image. I have thought that one of my watercolor papers/textures could be used. If you haven't downloaded them yet, they are a FREEBIE, and you can get them by clicking here.

I had taken some photos of concrete pillars inside the building where the exhibit was with the idea of using them for textures. When I was looking at the images I saw the image of the dried grasses that I took. My mind went....What if I use that?....Naw....Why not?....So I did. Here it is. This became my next layer. 

Making sure that my Move Tool was the active tool (I am not sure that you need to have the Move Tool selected for this, but that is a habit I have of making the Move tool active when I am not using another tool), I held down the Shift key and clicked on the + or - to scroll through the layer blending modes. The one I ended up liking the best was Hue and at 100% Opacity.  

Really, all that shows through of the dry grasses is its coloring, or hue. I would never have expected this result. In a way it's a mistake from my original thoughts, but I call it Serendipity and I like this result, so far.

Step 6.  I duplicated Layer 5, Command / Control - J, for this next layer and changed its blending mode to Divide and reduced the Opacity to 20%. Making sure that my Move Tool was the active tool, I held down the Shift key and clicked on the + or - to scroll through the layer blending modes and decided that Divide was the one I wanted to use. This gives a little of the texture of the grasses showing, especially on the leaves. 

I thought that this was beautiful and was going to stop here. But....my mind kicked in and said what if you use a Gradient Map....would that give you something even nicer?

Step 7.  I clicked on the button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add an Adjustment Layer and selected Gradient Map. My Foreground / Background colors are Black /White. So, when the Gradient Map dialog opened, it showed a black to white gradient and turned the image into a black and white image. This is not what I wanted. 

I clicked in the gradient and this opened the Gradient Editor.

My mind got to turning over and suggested that instead of a Solid Gradient why not try a Noise Gradient.

I clicked on the Gradient Type and selected Noise. I left Roughness at 50%. This is the noise gradient that came up when I selected noise for the type. I then clicked on Randomize. Each time you click on Randomize you get different noise gradient. I clicked Randomize a few times and got this noise gradient.

A little hint on using the Noise Gradient. Each time you click on Randomize, you get a new gradient. If you like one that comes up, you should give it a name, or use the name Custom, and click on New. This will put it up in the Presets so you can use it again. Because, if you click Randomize again you get a new gradient and you can't get back to the last one unless you made it a new or save it. Saving it will let you load it later. New puts it in the Presets, but it not saved.

After a few more clicks on Randomize, I got this noise gradient.

I clicked OK and my image looks likes this at Normal Mode and 100% Opacity.

Quite garish!  But if I just reduce the Opacity to 10%, I get something very nice.

And, this is my final image using all my what if's along the way. Serendipity played a major role in what I did. Have fun with your images....try something new....try something different....let your mind wander and take you to who knows where.

Unfortunately, my mind did not stop here. I noticed that I had not deleted the unneeded layer that was used to sharpen the image, Layer 3. I turned the visibility of the layer back on by clicking where the eyeball should be. It was left in a Vivid Light mode and 100% Opacity. This is the image now when this layer is turned on.

I left it at Vivid Light but reduced Opacity to 50%.

Very nice also. Making sure that my Move Tool was the active tool, I held down the Shift key and clicked on the + or - to scroll through the layer blending modes to see what I would get. Some of them are fantastic.  Here are a few examples. I kept the Opacity 50% for all these examples.

Hard Mix





Linear Burn

Soft Light

You can see that the possibilities are endless. It is difficult to select the image to use. It depends on the mood you are in, what you are trying to achieve for your image, and so many other factors that may be vying for your artistic attention. The main thing is to have fun and enjoy your creative efforts. And remember....

If you make a mistake, make it big and sign it....and, date it.

Here is what my Layers Panel looks like at the end. 

I am going to try something new for me. I just finished taking the class Behind the Scenes given by Kim Klassen and Xanthe Berkeley. It was absolutely a fantastic experience. If you are interested in blogging, I highly recommend this class. Registration for the next class begins 1 August 2012. In this class, Kim showed how to do the mouse over to see a before and after of an image. So I am trying that on showing you my before original image and my after image in a mouse over.

Mouse over to see the before original image.

It seems to work.....yeah! Thank you Kim for showing how to do it.

That's a fairly long post with several little items in it that you might find of interest to add new techniques in your scrapbooking and/or blogging.

You might notice that I didn't sign it and date it.

Life life fully and enjoy what you do.



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